The next astronauts to return to Earth on a SpaceX Dragon won’t be able to use a crucial system on their return trip next month: the space pot.
SpaceX’s toilets on its Crew Dragon Endeavor will be off-limits to the four Crew-2 astronauts once they leave the International space station in early November, NASA officials said on Friday evening (October 29). This is because of a possible urine leak in the toilet like the one seen on SpaceX’s all-civilian Inspiration4 flight in September. EspaceX has since redesigned its toilet to prevent leaks on future flights.
“Our intention is not to use the system for the ride home at all because of what we’ve seen with the fluids we’re talking about,” Steve Stitch, NASA’s Commercial Crew program manager, told reporters on Friday. , during a pre-launch briefing for SpaceX. The launch of Astronaut Crew-3, now scheduled for next week. “We have other ways to allow the crew to perform the functions they need.”
These other means? A waste management “undergarment” that astronauts have long used to relieve themselves when dressed in spacesuits for launches, landings, or spacewalks.
Live Updates: SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission to space station for NASA
Following: How to watch SpaceX’s Astronaut Crew-3 launch online
âWhenever the crew is fitted, they use an undergarment in that costume, and it’s a short mission to get home,â Stitch said. “So it’s pretty typical to have an undergarment and they can use it on the way home.” It was a safeguard for any space flight, he added.
The returning astronauts to Earth on the Crew-2 mission are Shane Kimbrough and Meghan McArthur of NASA, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet. They were launched at the station in April and were due to return home on November 4 with a water landing off the coast of Florida, NASA officials said Friday evening.
This landing date may now change after SpaceX and NASA delayed the launch of Crew-2’s rescue mission, Crew-3, until November 2 due to bad weather. Crew-2 astronauts will return after a transfer with their incoming teammates.
Related: SpaceX’s Inspiration4 private astronauts had toilet issues in space
Stitch said SpaceX and NASA have worked to shorten the time it takes for a Dragon crew to return to Earth after leaving the space station.
In August 2020, when SpaceX’s first crewed flight Demo-2 returned to Earth, it took just over 19 hours for its two-person crew to land after undocking from the station. SpaceX’s recovery team joined them shortly after they landed. SpaceX’s Crew-1 water landing on May 2 this year reduced that time to just under 6.5 hours. SpaceX recovery teams aim to unload a crew from their capsule within an hour of landing.
âWe’re working to try to always minimize that time between undocking and landing, so that’s what we’ll do with this flight,â Stitch said.
In the meantime, SpaceX and NASA are focused on the imminent launch of the next astronaut flight to the space station: the Crew-3 mission. This flight, originally scheduled for October 31, is now scheduled to take off on November 3 from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Take-off is at 1:10 a.m. EDT (5:10 a.m. GMT).
This mission will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer on their own six-month trip to the space station. They will be launched on the Crew Dragon Endurance, a new Dragon capsule. Crew-2’s Endeavor capsule is older and is on its second crewed mission.
You will be able to watch the Crew-3 launch live on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV and SpaceX, starting Tuesday, November 2 at 8:45 p.m. EDT (0045 GMT).