This might be a reason that NASA wants to send humans back to the moon, the space agency needs to make sure that the astronauts who go can go while on the lunar surface. That’s right folks, NASA needs a new space toilet.
This Thursday the U.S space agency launched a challenge through HeroX a platform that uses crowdsourcing to solve problems. In this case, to find a solution to NASA’s loo problem.
Here’s the quick and dirty on the space potty situation: The last astronauts who went to the moon under the Apollo program wore diapers. Other toilets including on the International Space Station have involved a hose and vacuum situation. Neither of those options is going to work this time around, according to NASA. The current toilet used for the ISS won’t work on the lunar surface because it’s designed for microgravity only. The moon has one-sixth of Earth’s gravity meaning poop falls down instead of floating away.
In order to handle the trip to the moon and after landing NASA is seeking some designs that work with and without gravity.
There is a list of four things that NASA would like to see in the lunar loo.
- Lunar toilet design concepts should allow astronauts to urinate and defecate in both microgravity and lunar gravity.
- The need to be able to handle about two weeks worth of all bodily fluids from both women and men.
- Bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet.
- The designs will need to be adaptable to work with NASA’s commercial partners designing landers for the moon.
There is a specific guideline about all of it here: https://www.herox.com/LunarLoo/guidelines
There are two categories of this challenge:
Technical for applicants above 18 years old, and the junior category for anyone under 18 years old.
First place in the technical category could earn a $20,000 cash prize. Second place gets $10,000 and third place will receive $5,000. In total, that’s about 1,750 bags of Costco-sized toilet paper.
Besides all the best part isn’t winning the cash price but having the chance to talk face to face with NASA engineers and possibly with an astronaut about the proposed design. Design winners will get the chance to have a private tour at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
The deadline for both categories to submit their designs is August 17. The technical category winners will be on September 30th and the junior category will be announced on October 20.
NASA opened the submissions of the challenge today.
Good luck to all the participants.