Have you also dreamed of being on board the Inspiration4 mission that put four space tourists into orbit around the earth for several days? No doubt you weren’t told the end of the story. The four pioneers of space tourism not only had to pay around fifty million euros each for their ticket, they also had to endure strong smells of feces in the cabin for almost their entire stay.
The reason ? A problem with the capsule toilet. It’s a little more complicated to meet your microgravity needs than on cow floors, where gravity goes a long way in making this process both easy and relatively hygienic. In space, however, engineers need to redouble their ingenuity to prevent going to the toilet from turning into hell.
Inspiration4: Oops, the toilet is broken
The solid manure is thus collected separately from the liquid manure. What is also needed is a device that prevents any exhaust gas leakage in the cabin. It is also important to ensure that the excrement gets exactly into the container provided for it. All without the help of gravity.
The room toilets are therefore equipped with various assistance systems and are complex to operate. Especially since we are easily close to the in the event of a breakdown catastrophe. And that’s exactly what happened to the members of the Inspiration4 mission. The first crew consisting entirely of tourists quickly signaled a problem with the toilets with an “Oh, oh …”.
According to The Byte, the problem arose after the failure of an exhaust fan, which is essential for the normal operation of the device. Suddenly, during the remainder of the mission, the crew members had to adjust and endure a smell worthy of the worst poorly maintained public toilets imaginable until they returned to Earth.
The situation lasted three days in total. The capsule the tourists were in had no way of helping the crew members change the scenery. Obviously no question of opening the windows – with the total freedom of air at this height.
Of course, upon their return, the crew members preferred to insist on the extraordinary experience they had just had. But the toilet problems in the room are not new. And with the development of space tourism, it becomes imperative to find new solutions that make these types of experiences less common.
In 2019 alone, for example, a failure of the toilets on board the International Space Station caused a “water” leak (ahem …) in the pressurized parts of the station. Forcing the crew of the station to carry out an emergency cleaning, knowing that the liquids really go in all directions without gravity and stick everywhere …
In any case, the incident on board the Inspiration4 prompted Elon Musk to react, who promised some improvements for the next tourist flights. He admits on Twitter: “We had some problems during this flight”before we emphasize that one of the priorities for the next tourist flight “Really belong to better toilets”.
You got it: if you have the budget to buy a little trip aboard the SpaceX capsule, we advise you to wait a little longer until this annoying problem is finally resolved!