Astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) rushed to fix their plumbing after a bulging pipe was disconnected from the bathroom sink, drenching the unsuspecting scientists with more than two gallons (9.5 litres) of water.
The very down-to-Earth problem occurred on the orbiting laboratory when the highly-qualified inhabitants were trying to install an enclosure for extra privacy around the on-board toilet.
This unfortunate debacle forced the scientists to scrabble around with towels to absorb the spherical beads of water that form in micro-gravity.
NASA says the astronauts swiftly fixed the issue and were never in harms way.
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The very down-to-Earth problem occurred on their orbiting home on February 1 when they were trying to install an enclosure for extra privacy around the toilet. Water in the micro-gravity of space and on-board the ISS forms in spherical balls (pictured)
NASA’s astronauts gathered in the bathroom to install the extra stall when they disconnected a Quick Disconnect (QD) for the potable water bus which is used by the astronauts for toothbrushing, bathing, and other hygiene routines.
A NASA blog detailed the relatable plumbing faux pas.
It read: ‘The crew successfully installed a new double stall enclosure within Node 3 today.
‘During the activity, the crew experienced a water leak while de-mating a Quick Disconnect (QD) for the potable water bus.
‘Approximately 9.5 litres leaked before the bus was isolated by MCC-H flight controllers.
‘The crew worked quickly to re-mate the leaky QD and soak up the water with towels.
The team then chose a different connector to undo in order to continue with the installation.
NASA says the installation from the crew that led to the plumbing faux pas will provide privacy for astronauts using both the toilet on the ISS (pictured) system and the hygiene compartment
NASA says it will provide privacy for astronauts using both the toilet system and the hygiene compartment.
Water in the micro-gravity of space and on-board the ISS forms in spherical balls.
It remains unclear if the water came out at high pressure at low pressure.
‘If it was a slow leak, it would have built up into a big, undulating blob that would have drifted off or crept along the wall with surface tension,’ Tom Jones, a former NASA astronaut and the author of Ask the Astronaut: A Galaxy of Astonishing Answers to Your Questions on Spaceflight, told The Atlantic.
‘If it was under a higher pressure and it was coming out at a fast rate, it would spray and make droplets go flying across the cabin.’
HOW DO ASTRONAUTS GO TO THE TOILET?
On board the ISS there is a toilet which has several attachments.
As there is no gravity in space, liquids do not flow but accumulate in floating globes.
To counter this problem, there are hoses which are used and provide pressure to suck the fluid from the body.
Each astronaut has their own personal attachment.
When a toilet is not available or the astronaut is on a space-walk, the astronauts use MAGs (maximum absorbency garments) which are diapers that soak up all the waste.
They are effective for short missions but have been known to leak occasionally.
Nasa is aiming to develop a suit which allows for long-term spacesuit usage and complete independent disposal of human waste.
On the moon missions there was no toilet and the all-male crew had ‘condom catheter’s that attached to the penis and the fluid was fed to a bag that resided outside of the suit.
According to an 1976 interview with astronaut Rusty Schweickart, the condom catheters came in three sizes: small, medium and large.
Despite the practical advantages of having the right size, the astronauts often ordered the large ones and this resulted in a leakage of urine in the suit.
To combat this, Nasa renamed the sizes as large, gigantic, and humongous to appease the male ego.
There has yet to be an effective female equivalent developed, something Nasa aims to change for the Orion missions.