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
“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
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
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.
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
Interbartolo says that,
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.”