(TheRedWire.com) – When your toilet has a problem at home, you can call the plumber to fix it. What happens when a plumbing issue happens in space? It’s a little more difficult to get a licensed plumber several miles above the Earth’s surface. That’s the challenge SpaceX and NASA engineers are grappling with as NASA astronauts prepare to make their way to the International Space Station on Sunday, October 31.
During a private three-day SpaceX flight in September, a tube became loose that allowed urine to spill onto space travelers and the floor of the Dragon capsule. Recently, NASA astronauts noticed the same problem on a capsule docked at the space station. America’s space agency scheduled the astronauts to return home in November. NASA is reviewing modifications ahead of Sunday’s flight to ensure engineers resolved the problem.
NASA and SpaceX Make Repairs to Faulty Toilet on Spacecraft
After NASA retired the Space Shuttle program in 2011, US astronauts hitched rides to the International Space Station (ISS) on Russian rockets. Last year, SpaceX took over and now carries US personnel to and from the ISS. Sunday’s scheduled launch would be the fourth trip with NASA and fifth overall.
NASA launched Sunday’s flight from the Kennedy Space Center after engineers fixed the leaky space toilet. SpaceX said a tube came loose, creating the problem. A company spokesperson said the unattached line allowed urine to flow to the fan system. The company resolved the issue by welding the joint so the plug could not become disconnected to fix the leak. NASA is reviewing the fix for safety purposes.
While the problem may be an easy fix for the capsule on Earth, what about the one in orbit? Officials say astronauts onboard the ISS inspected the capsule in space and discovered signs of leakage, as well. There was some good news. Since they were only onboard for a day before docking at the ISS, much less urine pooled beneath the floor panels than the one undergoing repairs on the ground, which was previously in space for three days. SpaceX says it’s looking for signs of structural damage or issues that could harm those returning to Earth. Company officials expect the test results soon.
On Sunday, the US-German four-member crew headed to the ISS expressed confidence in SpaceX’s fix. NASA flight commander Raja Chari said hundreds of people were working to resolve the problem quickly and stated he has complete trust in the repairs.
Since everything went according to plan, liftoff took place as scheduled.
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