Instead, the crew will have to rely on “underwear,” Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, told reporters Friday night.
SpaceX first discovered a problem with its spacecraft’s toilet last month while investigating another Crew Dragon capsule. The company found that the tube used to direct urine into a holding tank had been loosened, concealing a messy leak under the bottom of the capsule. It’s a story that has affected all three of the company’s spacecraft right now.
Stitch added that the timing will depend on several factors, including how runway dynamics and weather affect the return flight, but “we’re always working to shorten that time from separation to landing, and that’s what we’re going to do with this flight.” . “.
Jared Isakman, the commander and financier of the Inspiration4 mission, as it was called, told CNN Business last month that an alarm went off during the mission, alerting the crew to a problem with the toilet fan. He said he and fellow passengers were working on the ground with SpaceX’s consoles to solve problems.
This issue did not cause serious problems for the Inspiration4 crew, nor were there any cases of bodily fluids dripping into the capsule. But after the Inspiration4 crew returned to Earth, SpaceX dismantled their spacecraft to further examine the potential malfunction.
There is a storage tank where urine is stored [and] One of the tubes is disconnected or disconnected from the connection, said William Gerstenmaier, a former associate administrator at NASA who now serves as SpaceX’s main mission insurer. the system.”
The situation illustrates how spacecraft that have completed all necessary test flights, been checked and approved, and even complete full missions, still pose design risks.
Propellers are used in spacecraft toilets to create suction and control the flow of urine because waste in the microgravity environment in space can – and even – go in all directions.
In this particular case, the Inspiration4 crew didn’t notice any feces floating around the cabin, Gerstenmaier said, as the leak was still going down in the confined spaces underground.
SpaceX is cleaning up and fixing the issue with the Inspiration4 spacecraft, called Resilience. An all-new Crew Dragon capsule called Endurance, which will carry four more astronauts to the International Space Station on Wednesday, will be built for internal repair.
But the group of four astronauts who had already departed aboard the International Space Station in April, before toilet problems were discovered. Their capsule, Crew Dragon Endeavor, remained attached to the International Space Station, serving as a potential lifeboat and ready to take them home. And when astronauts recently inspected the capsule, they found that it also had a leaky toilet and evidence of urine leaking into the walls. But because they’re still in space, they can’t fix the problem right away.
The space station has its own bathrooms, so this shouldn’t be a problem as long as the astronauts are still aboard the orbiting laboratory. But once they get back on deck and begin their return trip — which NASA says could happen as early as this weekend — they’ll have to rely on the makeshift underwear option.
The spacecraft should remain relatively safe to fly, if not less comfortable than before.
SpaceX has conducted a series of ground tests to confirm The Crew Dragon’s aluminum frame is urine leak-resistant and the material has not become highly corrosive.
Essentially, SpaceX researchers soaked some pieces of metal in urine, mixing it with oxone – the same substance used to remove ammonia from urine aboard the Crew Dragon – to see how it reacted with the aluminum. Gerstenmaier said they put it in a chamber to mimic the emptiness of space, and found limited erosion.
“We’ll check things again, we’ll check things three times, we’ll have a few more samples, we’ll take them out of the rooms and check them,” he said last week. “But we’ll be ready to leave and make sure the crew gets back safely.”
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