NASA asks public to help in designing space toilet


As NASA prepares to return to the moon, the agency is accepting suggestions from the public on how to build a space toilet.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA is preparing to return to the moon. With it comes a lot of preparation. While the agency is well equipped with engineers and scientists, it is now asking the public for help.

The lack of gravity in space has always spelled trouble when it comes to waste disposal. That being said, the agency is launching what it calls the Lunar Loo Challenge.

Toilet problems in space

With no gravity to hold everything down, it is extremely difficult to use the toilet in space. Although NASA has a number of solutions to this, the agency is facing yet another problem. There is virtually zero gravity in space, but such is not the case in the moon.

The agency is looking for toilet design that works both in zero gravity and in a low gravity environment. The moon has around 17% of Earth’s gravity. The challenge the agency is posting is to design a toilet that works well on both zero and microgravity.

There are already existing toilets in the International Space Station. However, space scientists are doubtful whether they will be fully functioning on the moon’s microgravity environment. The agency is putting up a $35,000 reward for any who can come up with the best concept design.

Gravity is not the only issue

While gravity is the most important factor when designing space toilets, it is not the only one. Launching materials into space is an extremely expensive endeavor. Which is why space engineers always account for size, weight, and space these materials will use.

Every time NASA sends a spacecraft into space, every component down to the smallest rivet is being weighed. Every single gram of material should be accounted for and properly calculated.

For the Lunar Loo Challenge, the space toilet must not weight more than 15 kilograms. On top of that, it should not take more than 0.12m3 of space and use more than 70 watts of power. The designer should also put into account the body sizes of the astronauts, its maintenance, and ease of use.

NASA is accepting entries until August 17. Interested parties are required to submit their entries in 3D CAD file format. The winning team will receive a cash prize and a tour of the Johnson Space Center.

Image courtesy of L Galbraith/Shutterstock

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