NASA plans to launch a manned mission to the Moon in 2024 and is asking for help from Earthlings to solve a problem that astronauts will face: using the bathroom in space. In partnership with HeroX, the space agency launched a contest called “Lunar Loo Challenge”, which will bring a total of $ 35,000 in prizes for those who bring the best ideas for defecating in low gravity.
The contest aims to find solutions for the construction of compact bathrooms that work in microgravity and lunar gravity. According to the space agency, the ideas sent may assist in the development of the toilet that will be present at Artemis, the lunar landing of NASA’s next manned mission to Earth’s natural satellite.
“Astronauts will be eating and drinking, and subsequently urinating and defecating in microgravity and lunar gravity,” explains NASA. “As long as the astronauts are in the cabin and out of their space suits, they will need a bathroom with the same capabilities as those used on Earth”
Evolving space bathrooms
According to the official page of the contest, NASA’s goal is to “think outside the box” to find solutions different from those used by the space agency today. “The contest aims to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of the capture and containment of human waste”, explains the website of the “Lunar Loo Challenge”.
According to the agency, the contest may help to find “more efficient” solutions in relation to the space bathrooms currently used. NASA has been developing lunar gravity toilets since the Apollo 11 mission, but the technology behind human needs has evolved a lot in the past 50 years.
The mission that took Neil Armstrong to the moon in 1969 used a rubber bag and a hose to store the waste, which made the experience of making “number 2” very complicated. Currently, astronauts use more technological solutions: the two bathrooms at the International Space Station use hoses and suction systems to ensure that waste will be collected and will not float out among the astronauts.
If you have a crazy idea that can help NASA redefine how bathrooms work in space, the “Lunar Loo Challenge” contest is open until August 17th. You can check more details on how to participate on the competition website.