SpaceX tames some toilet problems in its capsules before launching four more astronauts.
The company and NASA want to make sure that leaking toilets don’t jeopardize the capsule’s launch on Sunday morning from Kennedy Space Center or another stationed at the International Space Station since April.
During SpaceX’s first private flight last month, a tube came off, spilling urine on the fans and under the ground, said William Gerstenmaier, SpaceX vice president who previously worked for NASA. The same problem was recently discovered inside the space station’s Dragon capsule, he told reporters on Monday evening.
As a permanent solution, SpaceX welded the urine flush tube inside the company’s new capsule, named Endurance by its US-German crew. NASA isn’t quite done reviewing the last-minute fix.
As for the orbiting Dragon capsule, less urine pooled under the floor panels than the one carrying a billionaire and three others on a three-day flight, Gerstenmaier said. That’s because the NASA-led crew only spent a day there before arriving at the space station.
SpaceX is performing tests to make sure the spilled liquid hasn’t weakened the orbiting capsule in the past six months, Gerstenmaier said. Any structural damage could endanger the astronauts on their return flight to Earth next month. Final testing is expected to be completed later this week, he noted.
Meanwhile, one of the German astronauts and the three NASA astronauts arrive from Houston on Tuesday for the countdown. Like their predecessors, they will spend six months in the space station.
This will be SpaceX’s fourth NASA astronaut launch and its fifth total passenger flight. NASA turned to SpaceX and Boeing to transport crews to and from the space station, after the shuttle fleet retired in 2011. US astronauts boarded Russian rockets until SpaceX took over. Last year.
Boeing hasn’t launched anyone yet. A repeated test flight of its unmanned Starliner capsule is interrupted until next year due to a valve problem.
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