An alarm went off on SpaceX’s flight with civilians, and the problem was the toilet

As Jared Isaacman and his three companions flew freely through Earth’s orbit, shielded from the relentless void. space For nothing but a 4-meter-wide carbon fiber capsule, the alarm went off.

spacecraft systems SpaceX Isaacman said Crew Dragon was alerting the crew to a “big” problem.

They spent months studying SpaceX manuals and training for emergency response in space, then took action, working with SpaceX ground controllers to determine the cause of the error.

After all, the crew the Dragon He was not in danger. But the bathroom was on board.

There is nothing easy about space, including going to the bathroom. For a healthy human on Earth, making sure everything goes to the toilet is usually a simple matter. But in space there is no sense of gravity. There is no guarantee that what comes out will go… where it should be. Garbage can – and go – in every possible direction.

To solve this problem, space baths have fans inside, which are used to create suction. Basically, they take waste from the human body and retain it.

Fans of the Crew Dragon “waste management system” have been experiencing mechanical problems. This set off the alarm the crew heard.

Scott “Kid” Bottet, the Inspiration4 mission manager who helped oversee the ground mission, briefed reporters on this in an interview with CBS.

Poteet and SpaceX’s mission crew management director later confirmed there were “problems” with the waste management system at a press conference, but they didn’t go into specifics, prompting an immediate flurry of speculation that the error might have caused a messy mess.

When asked directly about this on Thursday (23), Isaac said: “I want to be 100% clear: There was no problem in the cabin where it came in.”

But Isaacman and his fellow passengers on the Inspiration4 mission had to work with SpaceX to respond to the problem during their three-day stay in orbit, during which they experienced several outages, highlighting the importance of the entire crew training regimen.

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“I would say we probably didn’t have about 10% of our time in orbit [comunicação com o solo]And we were a very quiet team during that,” he said, adding thatThe ability to mental endurance A good psychological framework and good behavior “were crucial to the mission.

“The psychological aspect is an area where you can’t take risks because… there were obviously circumstances that happened out there where if you had someone who didn’t have that mental toughness and started acting badly, it could really drown out the whole job,” Isaac said. .

SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment from CNN Business.

The pigeon’s tale also highlights a fundamental truth about humanity and its extraterrestrial ambitions—no matter how polished and glamorous we imagine our space future, the biological facts remain.

Litter in space, a story

Isaac, like many astronauts before him, was shy when it came to discussing “the bathroom situation.”

“No one really wants to get into gory details,” Isaacman said. But when the Inspiration4 team talked to some of the astronauts from NASA, they said, “Using the bathroom in space is hard, and you have to be a lot – what’s the word? – very kind to each other.”

He added that despite the bathroom problems on board, no one had accidents or insults.

“I don’t know who was coaching them, but we were able to work and do it [o banheiro] Working even under difficult conditions at first, so there was nothing like, you know, doing it in the cab or anything like that,” he said.

However, figuring out how to rest safely in space was a fundamental question that was asked at the start of human spaceflight half a century ago, and the path to answers has not been without error.

During the 1969 Apollo 10 mission — which saw Thomas Stafford, John Young, and Eugene Cernan navigating around the moon — Stafford reported to Mission Control on the sixth day of the mission that a piece of trash was floating around the cabin, according to once-secret government documents.

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“Give me a handkerchief quick,” Stafford would have said a few minutes before Cernan saw another handkerchief: “Here’s some bullshit.”

A NASA report later revealed that the stool collection process at the time, included a “very basic” plastic bag that was “affixed to the buttocks.”

An official 2007 NASA report later revealed that “the fecal bag system was marginally functional and described by the crew as ‘extremely troublesome’.” The sachets did not provide odor control in the micro capsule, and the smell was prominent.”

Toilets in space have evolved since then, thanks to the painstaking efforts of NASA scientists like journalist Marie Roach, author of “Packing for Mars,” she told NPR in 2010.

“The problem here is that you have a very sophisticated bathroom and you need to test it. Well, you have to, you know, take it to Ellington Field, on a zero-gravity simulator — a plane that makes these detailed arcs up and down — and then you have to find a poor volunteer from the office of management Garbage the system to test it.And I don’t know about you, but, I mean, doing it on demand in 20 seconds requires a lot of you colon. Therefore, it is very complex and complex.”

Training for astronauts is no joke, Roach wrote in his book Mobilizing for Mars.

“Simple urination can, without seriousness, become a medical emergency requiring catheterization and embarrassing radio consultations with aviation surgeons,” she wrote. And because urine behaves differently inside the bladder in space, it can be very difficult to know when it is necessary to go to the bathroom.

space adaptation

The human body is evolutionarily designed for life on Earth, with its gravity, oxygen-rich air, and predictable environmental cycles.

It was not specifically designed to float in weightlessness, a fact that has caused many astronauts to become extremely nauseous, especially during their first few days in orbit.

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“I vomited 93 minutes on my first flight,” NASA astronaut Stephen Smith, a veteran of four space shuttle missions, told a reporter. “This was the first of 100 times on four trips. It’s weird to go to a job where you know you’re going to vomit.”

NASA has an official term for the disease – Space Adaptation Syndrome, which one article estimates that about 80% of astronauts have already experienced.

Isaacman said that during the Inspiration4 mission, he didn’t feel like vomiting. But adjusting to microgravity can be uncomfortable.

“It’s just a mess in your head,” he said, “like you’re hanging upside down in bed.” CNN Business. “But you have to find a way to just ignore it and work it out… After about a day, it sort of balances out and you forget.”

Not all of his crewmates were so lucky. Hayley Arsenault, a 29-year-old cancer survivor who worked as a medical officer for Inspiration4, had to give an injection of Phenergan — an antihistamine used to treat nausea to combat nausea, Isaacman said.

The inescapable truth is that humans will fight disease as long as we keep looking at space and seeing it as a place to go.

That’s why many journalists, including Roach, have questioned our tendency to romanticize space travel and downplay the harsh reality and risk.

But despite the annoyance, Isaacman said he doesn’t regret his decision to spend about $200 million on a three-day spaceflight.

“I hope this will be a model for future missions,” he said, adding that he believes in SpaceX’s mission to eventually support entire colonies of people living in outer space.

During the trip, “I felt really energized and energized by the idea that we just have to keep pushing and go further.”

(This is a translated text, click here To read the original text in English)

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