Back from space in diapers

Thomas Pesquet (F), Megan McArthur, Shane Kimbrough (USA) and Akihiko Hoshide im SpaceX Dragon.

Aubrey Geminani/NASA via The Associated Press

Four astronauts have returned to Earth from the International Space Station without a working toilet aboard the Dragon Crew. After an eight-hour flight, Crew Dragon landed in the sea off Florida.

At 199 days, “Crew-2” has been in space longer than any other manned space mission controlled by the United States to date, according to NASA. “We are delighted that Shane, Megan, Aki, and Thomas are safely back on Earth after a successful, long-duration record mission to the International Space Station,” said Bill Nelson, NASA President.

After the disengagement, the spacecraft, which was also loaded with about 250 kilograms of science experiments, circled the space station again to take pictures of possible upcoming repairs.

And because the toilet on SpaceX’s “Crew Dragon” ship by director Elon Musk had crashed, the four astronauts had to wear some kind of diaper upon their return. This was “suboptimal,” MacArthur said in advance at a press conference. “But there are many small challenges in space travel and we are ready to take control of them.”

Originally, the “Crew-2” was scheduled to separate on Sunday, but was pushed back to Monday at short notice due to bad weather. German astronaut Matthias Maurer and his “crew 3” can depart for the International Space Station Thursday morning (CET) at the earliest.

The astronaut from Saarland can finally take off

The start of the 51-year-old Saarland native was already scheduled this past weekend in October, but has been postponed several times – among other things due to bad weather and a “minor medical problem” for a crew member. NASA said the problem would likely be resolved by the start, and the weather on the now planned date was pleasantly predicted at first.

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For the first time in three years, a German astronaut is supposed to fly into space with Maurer. Together with their NASA colleagues, Thomas Marshburne, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron, it is scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral Spaceport in Florida. The four astronauts will also be transported on the “Crew Dragon”.

A delivery between Crew-2 and Crew-3 aboard the International Space Station has already been planned. That’s a failure now, but it’s not that bad, NASA astronaut Kimbrough said at a press conference. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hay, who came to the International Space Station in April with cosmonauts Oleg Noysky and Piotr Dobro, will now take over the task.

Maurer wished “Crew 2” a safe trip home Monday via SMS Twitter. “It’s a shame we won’t ‘fly’ each other on the space station, but we trust you’ll leave everything in order.”


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