NASA offers a cash award for the design of a new moon-ready space bath

Humans are returning to the moon. But how are they going to “go” when they get there?

NASA wants to build a better bathroom for astronauts on its next Artemis mission, a moon excursion with a target date of 2024. And it wants the public to help.

The agency has set up what it calls the Lunar Loo Challenge, a contest that invites designs from the global community in exchange for a prize of $ 35,000 (£ 27,900).

The space presents a number of challenges for anyone who needs to use the bathroom. The International Space Station has a bathroom that was installed in the 1990s, but it is difficult to use and has resulted in messy smells and unpleasant smells.

A new toilet called the Universal Waste Management System is scheduled to be installed this year, but it is designed only for the microgravity of space, not the lunar gravity of the moon.

NASA will also need a toilet that can be used on the surface of the moon, and one that is small enough to fit in the lunar lander.

The challenge requires the public to discover how to capture sewage and odors in both microgravity and the moon.

NASA hopes that the prize pool, to be disbursed among the three award winners, “will attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of capture and containment of human waste.” Children can also enter, but will receive non-cash prizes.

The teams have until August 17 to present their plans for a lunar bath. Adult winners will be announced on September 30 and younger winners on October 20.

The proposals will be evaluated in terms of their quality, feasibility, the probability that the design can be developed within the next two or three years and its innovation.

Oh, and the ability of the toilet to contain, in the agency’s words: “urine, feces (which accommodate simultaneous urination and defecation), diarrhea, vomiting, [and] menses.”

The Washington Post