Skip to main content

Elon Musk and his pet project, SpaceX, continue to make headlines and prove why going to space might be a little harder than some of us think. The SpaceX crew on the crew 2 capsule have found themselves in a bit of a nasty little mess. The space toilet (admittedly, not the scientific term) has failed, and now the crew is forced to wear diapers to avoid free-floating pee, which is not only gross but also dangerous for the SpaceX mission.

Elon Musk arrives to watch as Inspiration4 crew members Jared Isaacman, Chris Sembroski, Hayley Arceneaux, and Sian Proctor prepare to leave for their flight on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon at launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
Elon Musk watches the Inpiration4 launch | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Does Elon Musk have a space toilet issue? 

According to The Drive, Elon Musk’s astronauts docked on the International Space Station on April 24. As the crew nears its 200 day-mark in space, catastrophe has struck. It turns out that space toilets aren’t quite as simple as the Johns we have here on Earth. These waterless thrones use a complicated system of tubes and fans designed to suck the waste away from the craft’s inhabitants, in this case, the SpaceX crew of the Dragon spacecraft. 

This isn’t the first time a SpaceX crew has dealt with free-floating pee

Back in September, the crew of the Inspiration4 had a similar floating pee issue. A space toilet tube had come disconnected during the three-day mission, allowing urine to spread underneath the floor after literally hitting the fan. 

When this happened on the Inspiration4, SpaceX engineers emplored crew 2 to check their plumbing as well. To their dismay, Elon Musks’s space toilet had the same issue. 

Sure, It’s gross, but can urine really hurt anything?

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Inspiration4
SpaceX Inspiration | CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

It can. The engineers were worried that the free-floating liquid might cause some problems upon re-entry. The worry is that the liquid could cause corrosion to the SpaceX ship’s aluminum components. To be fair, the urine alone wasn’t the issue. The toilets add a chemical to the pee called oxone. This mixing with the urine has the potential to corrode aluminum parts. Although corrosion was found to be unlikely, the SpaceX crew and engineers wanted to play it safe and stop using the ol’ thunder pot. 

They don’t call them “Depends” for nothing 

NASA Commercial Crew program manager Steve Stich stated that “Our intent is to not use the system at all for the return leg home, because of what we’ve seen with the fluid.”

The Crew of the SpaceX Dragon will now rely on a more traditional method of going to the bathroom, diapers. Although this may seem humiliating or just plain uncomfortable, astronauts aren’t strangers to sporting some adult Huggies. In fact, their spacesuits come with just this sort of thing. 

“Any time the crew is suited, they use an undergarment in that suit, and it’s a short mission coming home, so it’s pretty typical to have an undergarment on, and they can use that on the way home,” Stich added. 

These SpaceX astronauts are a special breed 

Thankfully, these astronauts are used to taking such funky measures and didn’t have much longer to go before splashdown (I’m sorry). I hope they all got a nice bath as soon as they got back to HQ.


SpaceX Has Crashed a Lot of Starship Rockets: Here’s the Rundown