Elon Musk took to Twitter on Monday 20 September to reveal that there had been some “challenges” for the Inspiration4 crew regarding the toilet used on-board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft—which first took off Wednesday 15 September and landed the following Saturday evening. After tweeting that he had met with the crew, the SpaceX CEO began answering questions from users revealing there were issues with the bog and promising updates.
In a response to one user, Musk wrote that for future flights there would “definitely be upgraded toilets. We had some challenges with it this flight.” Also writing that there would be “a little oven for heating food and Starlink WiFi” after details surfaced that the crew ate cold pizza and were unable to send as many photos or videos of Inspiration4 because of lack of accessibility to ground stations where NASA had priority. The WiFi for future flights would be connections made through SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.
One of the civilian passengers on Inspiration4, Jared Isaacman, explained to Insider in July 2021 that Crew Dragon’s—a variant of Dragon 2—toilet facilities were positioned on the spacecraft’s ceiling and encompassed by a glass dome that showcased a 360-degree view for passengers when using the toilet. Basically, you could look out into space while you bake a loaf. “It’s not a ton of privacy. But you do have this privacy curtain that cuts across the top of the spacecraft, so you can kind of separate yourself from everyone else,” Isaacman told Insider.
He also added that part of the civilian astronauts’ intensive training for the flight involved learning how to operate the toilet on board.
The specific “challenges” are currently unclear, but according to SpaceX’s Benji Reed, the problem may be linked to the suction fan—the item responsible for the effective removal of waste. During a post-flight conference, Reed, leader of the human spaceflight programmes for SpaceX, stated, “We had a couple of issues that we worked [on], we did work something [out] on the Waste Management System but that was worked [out] fine and, you know, the crew was happy and healthy.”
Cold pizza and a toilet that doesn’t flush? Sounds like a really expensive easyJet flight to me.