SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has promised to upgrade the toilet facilities onboard the Dragon spacecraft for future missions. In a tweet, he revealed that the crew of the historic inspiration mission had some “challenges” with the spacecraft’s onboard toilets, without going into details.
Last week, the Dragon spacecraft created history when it carried a crew of four civilians to low earth orbit. The crew spent three days orbiting the earth at an altitude of over 380 kilometers, close to three times higher than the International Space Station.
The mission was mostly smooth sailing. The crew enjoyed themselves in microgravity, eating pizza and watching movies. But, according to some reports, the crew had some tense moments during the mission, when issues with the Waste Management System cropped up – a malfunctioning suction fan leading to a smelly cabin.
Due to the demands of space, toilets onboard spacecraft and the International Space Station are radically different. They usually have a suction tube to clear away the human waste and store them in a chemical storage unit.
Earlier this year ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet tweeted a picture of the Dragon spacecraft’s toilet. Credit: Thomas Pesquet
SpaceX’s lead for human spaceflight programs, Benji Reed told Space.com, that they had a few issues that they had to work on, and they did some work on the Waste Management System during the flight.
Despite the issues, the toilet aboard the Dragon still had one of the best views in human history. A glass cupola covered the toilet from the outside, allowing the occupants to take in a spectacular view of the world during their bathroom break.
The Dragon spacecraft has been used multiple times to ferry astronauts to and forth to the International Space Station, yet the problem became more prominent on the Inspiration4 mission due to the length of the missions. Astronauts going to the ISS usually only stayed onboard the Dragon for less than 24 hours. On the other hand, the crew of the Inspiration4 stayed for three consecutive days.
Cover Photo: NASA/Inspiration4