SpaceX Astronauts Will Wear Diapers for Splashdown Due to a Broken Toilet: 'We're Prepared'
The SpaceX Crew Dragon team will be ready to go — quite literally — as they return to Earth on Monday night.
Over the weekend, the Endeavour crew held a press conference where they spoke to reporters about life at the International Space Station (ISS) and their expected splashdown off the coast of Florida.
Since April, the team — comprised of mission commander Shane Kimbrough, pilot Megan McArthur and mission specialists Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet — have been on the ISS, where they've made major advancements, like installing solar panels to upgrade the station's power grid and growing the first green chile peppers in space, according to NPR.
During their chat, McArthur, 50, revealed that the toilets on the Dragon Endeavor were currently broken — meaning that the crew would have to wear diapers on their way back to Earth.
"Of course that's sub-optimal, but we're prepared to manage," she told reporters, per NPR. "Space flight is full of lots of little challenges, this is just one more that we'll encounter and take care of in our mission."
According to NASA, the Endeavour's hatches were closed by 12:20 p.m. ET on Monday. Two more hatches will need to be closed on the ISS before the capsule can officially undock at 2:05 p.m. ET. The spacecraft will then splashdown off the coast of Florida by 10:33 p.m. ET, per NASA's live stream.
This isn't the first time that astronauts have dealt with toilet problems in space.
In September, it was revealed that the Inspiration4 crew also ran into some issues while orbiting the Earth in their historic all-civilian mission, which PEOPLE covered in depth from blast off to splashdown.
According to CNN, mission commander Jared Isaacman said he and his three crewmates heard an alarm go off, which meant a "significant" but unspecified issue was happening onboard.
It was later determined that the alarm was connected to the Dragon's "waste management system" fans, which suction human waste and keep it stored away, per the outlet. Without the fans, astronaut waste may float out of the toilet due to the lack of gravity in space, ultimately creating a mess.
Isaacman clarified that things did not reach that point, telling CNN, "I want to be 100% clear: There were no issues in the cabin at all as it relates to that... there was nothing ever like, you know, in the cabin or anything like that."
Other astronauts haven't been so lucky. While aboard the Apollo 10 mission in 1969, Thomas Stafford reported to mission control that a piece of waste was floating through the cabin, according to the once-confidential voice transcription of the trip.
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NASA astronauts Kimbrough and McArthur; Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Hoshide; and European Space Agency astronaut Pesquet blasted off for the six-month Crew-2 science mission on April 23.
"It's an amazing thing to get to spend this much time in space and really get used to it, start to adapt to the environment and get efficient moving around and living and working in space," she said. "It's really been incredible."
The launch marked NASA's second manned mission for the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and "the first with two international partners," NASA said in an April press release.