NASA can control everything except the basic human need. So, before it sends back the astronauts to the Moon, they want you to help them out in manufacturing an easy-to-use lunar restroom.
To make things interesting, NASA has launched a competition known as the “Lunar Loo Challenge” in which the organization is partnering up with HeroX to come up with the best toilet designs for the future human lunar lander. Since the agency wants to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024, it needs assistance in creating a restroom that is versatile and inclusive.
The problem is that without much gravity, things can get pretty messy. So, it’s essential that they prepare well and consider everything from different perspectives.
It’s been many decades since NASA has been sending astronauts into space, so they’re well-equipped when it comes to creating good space toilets. But the idea is to think outside the box since now the technology on Earth is so evolved and diversified. NASA is even planning on awarding $35,000 as a prize to the person who comes up with the best solution!
“We wanted to see what’s out there — what the unknown unknowns are and put the power of the crowd to find those citizen scientists who’ve got different perspectives.” – said Mike Interbartolo who is currently the project manager for the Lunar Loo
Challenge and working on the Human Lunar Lander System at NASA.
One thing is for sure: The new ideas will be much better than what the Apollo astronauts had access to. Do you know that the Apollo spacecraft that took humans to the Moon had absolutely no toilets? And to urinate they literally had to pee in a rubber tube that transferred the liquid into a container on lucky days and outside the spacecraft on bad days. Don’t even get us started on pooping because they used plastic bags with sticky rings around the rim that was attached to their behinds.
“It was messy. You didn’t have any odor control. The crew hated it. It wasn’t easy to get a good seal on the bag without your buddy having to help. And that’s just not the way we want to go back to the Moon 50 plus years later.”
To win this challenge, participants are requested to follow certain specifications. For example, the toilet must accommodate both men and women. Furthermore, it has to be of a certain size. In addition to this, it should suck all and not be too noisy or too time-consuming, etc.
NASA has even estimated how much toilet the astronauts would have to use in space. And depending on that they’ve mentioned the amount of waste the toilet must be able to collect. According to the guidelines, the toilet must collect “1 liter of urine per use” and “accommodate 500 grams of faecal matter per defecation.”
Moreover, the toilet must have the ability to accommodate all kinds of fluids including period blood and vomiting, etc.
“We want to make sure it has enough redundancy so that if there’s a failure in the toilet, it doesn’t spread faecal matter or urine all over the cabin and contaminate things.”
Interbartolo says that, “Going to poop on the Moon is not a top priority, but we don’t want to make it a miserable experience for the crew. We want to make it as comfortable and as close to home life as possible.”