Few things will ruin your day quite like the misery of a broken toilet.
I want you to think back to the last time you had to deal with one.
Can you see it? Good, now imagine trying to solve that problem in space.
For the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Monday night can only be described as a comedy of errors.
Per Gizmodo, the toilet in the Russian segment of the ISS, one of two systems that generate oxygen for the crew, and the space station’s oven all went on the fritz.
Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin reported the loo issue to ground controllers, who think that an air bubble formed in the system causing a blockage.
It has now been fixed but had it stayed broken, the cosmonauts would have had to do the deed in a toilet located in their Soyuz-MS-16 spacecraft, which is currently docked on the ISS. If that failed, they would have had to don nappies.
As an aside, cosmonauts are people trained and certified by the Russian Space Agency to work in space, while astronauts are people trained and certified by NASA, ESA, CSA, or JAXA.
Following the plumbing issue, the Russian oxygen supply system broke down for the second time, after doing so last week.
The water used to generate the oxygen ran out, but this situation was also fixed, much to the relief of everyone involved.
Located in the Zvezda module, the Electron-VM oxygen supply system is one of two on the ISS, the other being NASA’s Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS).
NASA’s system can sustain the six-member crew, and there are spare oxygen tanks available should things really go sideways.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the oven that the astronauts and cosmonauts use to heat up food died.
So that’s dwindling oxygen, a broken toilet, and a cold dinner.
A second pesky air leak that had been eluding the ISS team since September 2019 was discovered last week, when Ivanishin observed the trajectory of a floating tea bag within the Zvezda module.
No astronauts or cosmonauts were harmed in the making of this awful series of events.
All is well again on the ISS.
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