NASA’s next program Artemis will land the first woman and the next man back to the Moon by 2024. Humanity will establish a presence that will enable crewed journeys to Mars, the space agency said.
Preparation includes quite a few not-so kickass elements of space travel. Equipment, shelter, and other support for future astronauts are underway, but these astronauts will need more than that. They will eat and drink and get poop in some pretty challenging circumstances.
“While astronauts are in the cabin and out of their spacesuits, they will need a toilet that has all the same capabilities as those present on Earth,” the space agency says in the description of the challenge.
Therefore, NASA crowdsourcing ideas for a toilet on the Herox website under “NASA’s Lunar Loo Challenge.” Not that space toilets don’t already exist. It does at the International Space Station, for example. But these are designed for microgravity (weightlessness) only. NASA wants the next-generation device, smaller, more efficient, and must operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity, which is about one-sixth of Earth’s gravity. As a result, bodily fluids and the like will “fall down,” but more slowly.
Competitive moon toilet designs can be submitted here no later than August 17, 2020. There’s $35,000 in prize up to grab. The winner will be announced on September 30. There is also a junior category in this challenge.
There’s a list of technical requirements for creators to consider. For example, while the preferred method for capturing vomit will be emesis bags (“throw up” bags), NASA says bonus points will be awarded to designs that capture vomit without putting the head in the toilet.