NASA Wants You to Design a Space Toilet for Future Moon Missions

Pablo Tucker
November 16, 2020

Therefore, the toilet is required to work in the microgravity of space (zero-g), as well as on the moon where the gravity is one-sixth of the Earth's. "The process for using proposed toilet designs must be relatively straightforward", the agency said in a statement. With that in mind, the space agency is now looking to the public for ideas for "moon toilets". The victor will get $20,000, while those who come in second and third will get $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.

"As NASA astronauts prepare to set their boots on the Moon in 2024, we're turning to the global network of problem solvers to design the next-generation lunar toilet", says Lunar Loo project manager Mike Interbartolo.

Nasa's Orion spacecraft, the first step in its Artemis mission to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.

Another requirement on the toilet design was that it should also conserve water "help maintain a pristine environment inside the lander that is free of odours and other contaminants".

"Bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his head down the toilet", according to the guidelines.

The specifications add that it should be able to deal with up to 114 grams of menstrual blood per crew per day and "allow for easy cleaning and maintenance, with 5 minute turnaround time or less between uses". The deadline is August 17 and the winners will be announced on September 30. For example, it must weigh less than 33 pounds in Earth's gravity, measure no more than 4.23 cubic feet, consume less than 70 watts of power and accommodate both sexes. On the Moon, they will be carrying about 80 pounds.

The astronauts must stay for at least a week (on early missions) in the pressurized crew cabin portion of the lander. Their designs have to be lighter than 15kg in Earth's gravity, no larger than 0.12m and no louder than the average bathroom fan, and the must be able to cater to all the toilet needs of its female and male users safely and securely. Lunar surface gravity isn't the almost total absence of gravity you find on the ISS, but it is only a fraction of what holds us down on the home planet because the Moon has so much less mass.

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