NASA’s broken SpaceX Endeavor toilets force astronauts to wear diapers

NASA SpaceX Crew-2 The mission is scheduled to return this week after it separates from the International Space Station, but its crew will experience some discomfort.
Due to a broken toilet aboard the Crew Dragon spaceship called the Effort, NASA astronauts will have to return in diapers, the Associated Press reported.
“Spaceflight is full of a lot of little challenges,” NASA astronaut Megan McArthur explained of the “suboptimal” but manageable situation at a news conference Friday, the AP reported. “This is just one more that we will find and that we will take care of in our mission. So we are not too concerned about that. “

The fact that astronauts are forced to wear a diaper during the roughly 20-hour journey can be irritating to them, but it is nothing new in the field of space travel.

Traditionally, logistical problems on spacecraft have made it difficult to use the bathroom. This became evident in 1961, when Alan Shepard was going to be the first person in space and realized, hours after waiting for his spaceship to launch, that he needed to urinate and that mission control needed to give him the go-ahead. . to go in his spacesuit. There were legitimate fears at the time regarding this as some were concerned that this might have shorted out some equipment, but this did not end up being an issue.

Alan Shepard, the first American in space, is seen in this photo of preparations for the Apollo 14 lunar mission, taken on January 31, 1971 (credit: sv / ELD / ME / Reuters).

Since then, NASA used a special device made by the BF Goodrich company and integrated it into the suit itself to properly collect debris, which was ready in time for the next space mission later that year.

But the importance of a means to help astronauts find a way to urinate is more than just food for bathroom humor, as the effects of space travel have a notable impact on the human bladder.

This was especially noted in 1962 with astronaut John Glenn. During his mission, he used his urine collection device only once, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. However, he managed to fill the device with 27 ounces of urine. By comparison, the human bladder is physically unable to hold more than 20 ounces of urine.

So how does this happen?

As the author Mary Roach noted in her book Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in a vacuum, zero gravity in space means that when urine flows into the bladder, it does not collect at the bottom as it normally would. Rather, it floats. As such, the body’s “warning signals” are not activated in the usual way.

“Only when the bladder is almost completely full do the sides begin to stretch and trigger the urge,” he wrote. “And by then the bladder may be so full that it is pressing on the urethra to close it.”

Over time, the technology involved has become more sophisticated, but it appears that for this return flight, the astronauts on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission will have to go a bit low-tech with the diapers.

Endeavor is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 1:05 pm EST on Sunday and will see the crew, consisting of NASA, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and European Space Agency astronauts ( ESA) end 199 days in space. The spacecraft will maneuver to photograph the exterior of the space station and then head for Earth, splashing into one of seven preset landing zones in the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico or the Florida coast.

Their replacements on the space station will launch as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission, which will depart no later than Wednesday night.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *