'Lunar Loo' challenge asks people to help astronauts poop on the Moon

James Marshall
June 29, 2020

While space exploration is pretty unbelievable, one thing which seems to be bothering NASA when they send astronauts back to the moon is where will they go for bathroom breaks on reaching the lunar surface.

NASA is working with three companies - SpaceX, Blue Origin, Dynetics - for the "Human Landing System" or lander of its Moon mission.

The United States space agency NASA has thrown open a new challenge worth Rs 26 lakh for the global community to send across novel design concepts for compact toilets that can function in microgravity and lunar gravity. It is part of Nasa's "Artemis" programe to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024.

The International Space Station already has a toilet for microgravity, where the objects remain weightless. This challenge includes a "Technical category" and "Junior category".

The challenge is being overseen by the Nasa Tournament Lab and organised on the HeroX crowdsourcing site.

This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category.

"This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment", NASA wrote in an overview of the challenge, titled "NASA's Lunar Loo Challenge". Children in the junior category can win "public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise", according to the challenge overview.

The crew will be made up of two astronauts, so the unit will need to support those two people for 14 days while also allowing for collected waste to be stored or disposed of outside of the craft. Designs should also take up no more than 4.2 cubic feet (0.12 cubic meters) of space and shouldn't be louder than 60 decibels (that's about the same volume as a bathroom fan on Earth, according to the same statement).

"We may know how to make space toilets, [but] we recognize that there are a lot of innovations going in waste management from the no-flush toilet to waterless toilets and more", said Mike Interbartolo, the project manager of Lunar Loo Challenge.

The last date for submission is August 17, so you better start hurrying up and prepare the design needed for the mission.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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