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The ISS astronauts had one heck of a night last night

Published Oct 20th, 2020 8:01PM EDT
space station broken
Image: NASA

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  • The International Space Station had a number of breakdowns and malfunctions on Monday night.
  • A toilet, oven, and oxygen supply system all broke down within hours of each other.
  • The breakdowns were fixed and the crew is not in any danger.

The International Space Station has had more than its fair share of problems over the past couple of months. Busted oxygen systems and a random leak that seemed to spring up out of nowhere and defied detection for weeks have made life aboard the orbiting laboratory a little bit more complicated than it normally would be. Things appeared to clear up over the past few days, which was a good thing, but last night was another story.

As Gizmodo reports a trio of unfortunate malfunctions made the evening a rough one for the scientists orbiting Earth, and it all started with a broken toilet.

According to reports from AFP and Russia’s TASS news agency, a toilet on the Russian side of the spacecraft failed to operate as intended. That’s a big deal in space, and the culprit was apparently a bubble in the waste disposal system that was messing things up. The good news is that it was fixed relatively quickly, but even if it wasn’t, there were two more toilets available on the space station that the Russian crew could have used, including the new toilet that was recently installed on the U.S. side.

Following the busted toilet, the oxygen supply system on the Russian side of the space station malfunctioned yet again. It’s the same system that broke down last week, and details regarding the breakdown are scant. However, like the toilet, the issue with the oxygen system was reportedly corrected before long and things returned to normal… for a while.

With the toilet fix and nice, clean air to breathe, things were looking up for the ISS crew. That is until they decided to grab some chow and realized that the onboard oven that heats the crew’s packaged meals was also broken. I mean, can you imagine? Are these scientists flying around in a state-of-the-art spacecraft or a 1970s Volkswagen van?

Thankfully, the food heater was also eventually fixed, but not before the entire ISS crew likely rolled their eyes about a dozen times. It was a rough evening for the crew, but the good thing about being “stuck” orbiting the planet in a big spacecraft means that you and everyone else on board are brilliant scientists that can fix most problems when they pop up.

So, the ISS is back in good working order, at least for the moment. With all the weird stuff that’s been happening on the space station over the past month, it might be easy to imagine there’s some root cause to it all, but it looks like the only thing at work here is a lot of bad luck.

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