back to article Now that's a splash down: Astronauts spend 8-hour trip to Earth in diapers after SpaceX capsule toilet breaks

Four astronauts departed the International Space Station on Monday, and made their way safely back to Earth wearing diapers after their SpaceX capsule's toilet broke down. NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA’s Thomas Pesquet departed for terra firma a little …

  1. IGotOut Silver badge

    The trip to Mars...

    ... just got a whole lot smellier.

  2. bombastic bob Silver badge

    I'm sure BOEING would have gotten the toilets to work

    nevermind reliably flying into space with an actual crew on board. And returning them to Earth. Alive.

    OK I just had to say that. Well, THAT, and... POO! IN! SPACE!!!

    [coat, please]

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Re: I'm sure BOEING would have gotten the toilets to work

      So the Boeing toilet wouldn't suffer from a sticky valve?

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: I'm sure BOEING would have gotten the toilets to work

      The 787 that last took me to Disneyland had a toilet largely held together with silver gaffer tape, which I took at the time as a pragmatic response to an in-service failure. The fact that the same gaffer tape was in place on the return 14 days later suggested this was either a very common occurrence or TUI simply couldn't afford to take the aircraft out of service for repairs. Perhaps they should have issued a pair of TENA pants and complementary tub of Sudocrem?

    3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: BOEING Starliner toilet cannot break

      Starliner does not have a toilet.

  3. Conundrum1885

    Ack, its a


    (gets coat)

  4. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

    Who would have thought ...

    that the ultra-low-cost principle of the likes of Ryan and SouthWest enters commercial space transportation business this early.

    I give Ryan two years to begin handing out diapers upon boarding, the toilet will be 20 quid.

    After all, that's space technology.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Ryanair will probably sell the diapers for 20 quid and remodel the toilet to fit two more passengers. Possibly selling it as a special Mile High Club special.

      1. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge

        Re: Nah...

        A latrine, Ancient Roman style

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Pretty standard for a transatlantic flight

    > Unfortunately, the toilet in the capsule was out of order

    Yup, those major "dumpers" on long haul!

    (Though maybe the live worms and growing chili peppers for tacos had something to do with it? Guys, you were only meant to eat the chilies)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely astronauts have been trained to go to the loo before setting off on a long trip...

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: Finals...

      Probably. But eight hours is quite a while to hold out.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Finals...

        Allegedly Tom Stafford Frank Borman held it all the way to the Moon and back on Apollo 8.

        That's determination.

  7. lglethal Silver badge

    Those Astronauts are amazing. Faced with a problem, they dont let the sh&t hit the fan, nor do they take the piss. They really know how to hold the line!

  8. Frank Leonhardt

    Sounds like Ryan Air TBH.

  9. 96percentchimp

    Before SpaceX it would have been diapers all the time

    There were no spacecraft with toilets on board before the Space Shuttle, and there hasn't been one since. Soyuz has never had a toilet. Arguably, this is a return to standard space plumbing, although it sounds like SpaceX has already fixed the problem for future flights.

    As someone else pointed out, Boeing didn't even put a toilet in Starliner, although maybe that's because they never expected it to fly.

    1. Charlie Stross

      Re: Before SpaceX it would have been diapers all the time

      Not exactly true: all Salyut (Almaz) space stations had toilets, as did Skylab.

      It's true that no capsule system I know of has a toilet, but they're basically space taxis for getting to/from something bigger. (I'm not certain of the toilet arrangements aboard the Chinese Shenzhou system.)

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Before SpaceX it would have been diapers all the time

      There are toilets on small private jets, which amount to one of the rear seats with a curtain round. Remove the cushion and the bog is waiting. Nobody ever wants to use these, so experienced travellers make sure they are prepared for the journey, and do not partake the onboard refreshment until they are sure they are home "dry". Inexperienced travellers soon learn to do the same. People who are unwell should not step aboard.

  10. heyrick Silver badge

    Wasn't there a crazy astronaut...

    ...that spent about that long in nappies whilst driving across the country to bother an ex, or something?

    Edit: It was Lisa Nowak who did a long road trip to bother an ex's girlfriend. Loosely made into a film "Lucy in the Sky" (according to wiki, I've not watched it).

  11. genghis_uk

    They need the Wolowitz Zero-Gravity Waste Disposal System...

    Thinking about it, maybe the problem was that they did have the Wolowitz Zero-Gravity Waste Disposal System ;)

    1. mark4155

      Is that you Sheldon?

      Sheldon Cooper stop making fun of that tiny Howard boy this second. There were no Russians using the toilet with their heavy potato based diets.

      I'm including both of you in our nightly prayer meeting.

      God bless y'all, your mother in Texas.

  12. Zenubi


    The Space X module had to fly around the ISS.

    Russian modules just need to detach and watch the ISS rotate around them.

  13. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    A bit of music history

    Four astronauts departed the International Space Station on Monday, and made their way safely back to Earth wearing diapers

    As performed by Donovan back in the 70s.

  14. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    It's going to need a good clean before the next trip.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Could have been worse

    Alan Shepard, in the first Project Mercury flight, had to pee in his spacesuit because of delays before launch.

  16. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    In space...

    no-one can hear you pee....

  17. Charlie Stross

    Gemini VII still has the record!

    The Gemini 7 mission in 1965 set a record for long-duration flight aboard a capsule, in which astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell spent just short of 14 days in Earth orbit in a tin can with roughly the interior dimensions of a SMART PlusTwo, and no toilet. They were investigating the human body's ability to withstand spaceflight for the duration of an Apollo mission to the moon and back.

    ... The sanitary arrangements were crude, to say the least.

    NASA are cagey about the precise details, but it's rumoured that Lovell and Borman went almost six days before one of them cracked and broke out the "defecation kit", which was basically a plastic bag the astronaut had to tape to their ass before taking a dump. They then had to use a finger cot -- basically a finger-sized condom -- to scrape any cling-ons into the bag, break a capsule of disinfectant inside it, and mix the contents thoroughly before storing it under the seat. And that's the system all the Apollo missions used.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Gemini VII still has the record!

      The U2 has a system involving a length of inner tube with a tap leading to a hole in the cockpit.

      Please ensure the length of inner tube is firmly attached to the length of your 'outer tube' before the flight

  18. Blackjack Silver badge

    Things Nasa does better that private companies:

    1) Toilets

    2) Keep hardware that's old still working.

    3) Making spacecraft that doesn't look like a d*ck.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      >Things Nasa does better that private companies:

      >1) Toilets


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "and performed the first-ever 360-degree flight around the ISS to photograph the floating laboratory before heading toward Earth"

    I'm amazed that the shuttle never did a photo-op pass around the station. NASA typically does a good job with promotional photography moments.

  20. Joe Gurman

    The boldly go line is cute

    ....but the history of space toilets, including the ones on US Shuttles and the ISS, is rife (ripe?) with examples of malfunctioning health and safety equipment. Space is hard, space toilets are harder.

  21. John 110

    BSFA members...

    BSFA members will of course remember Bob Shaw's innovative suggestion that they should use the pee as a reaction fluid. Harnessing the fluid-multiplying effects of beer, his ship the Urin-8 had a bar at one end and reaction propellant tanks at the other...

    (he also speculated on Scottie's reaction to Kirk needing more power from the engines...)

    1. Yes Me Silver badge

      Re: BSFA members...

      I understand from Al Jazeera that South Korea is having a supply chain crisis because they are out of urea, which apparently is required to make South Korean diesel engines go. (I am not making this up.) Connecting a few dots, it seems to me that SpaceX can turn used diapers, or nappies if you prefer, into a new business opportunity.

      My coat too, please.

      1. kat_bg

        Re: BSFA members...

        Urea is in short supply all over the world. Prices for Ad Blue (the addititive for the diesel engines) and the adhesives (Urea-formaldehyde type for industrial use) have gone through the roof. And all due to the prices for the natural gas

  22. TeeCee Gold badge


    SpaceX Crew-2

    That's pronounced as; SpaceX Crew number two.

  23. BackToTheFuture

    Penny For Your Thoughts

    So did they eventually mange to remove the penny jammed in the door lock?

    (One for the Ancient Brits here)

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Penny For Your Thoughts

      At least we don’t have to Euronate any more!

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