Astronauts can already urinate and defecate when they float in space, but NASA is looking for smaller, more efficient and low-gravity concepts for its future missions to the Moon. She launched a call for projects with $ 35,000 in prizes.
“This challenge hopes to spark radically new and different approaches to the problem of collecting and storing human waste“, writes the American space agency in the technical prose with which it is customary.
5 bags of poop on the moon
Apollo astronauts were in a bag (at least five have remained on the Moon, according to official records) and the toilets of the International Space Station are now operating with pipe and suction systems, weightlessness obliges.
NASA will award three prizes (20,000, 10,000 and 5,000 dollars) to the most creative inventors for a system to be installed in the landing gear which will bring two astronauts to the Moon by 2024, according to the official calendar (three companies are competing to build the landing gear).
The specifications are specified: the toilets must of course be used for men and women, operate both on the Moon (where gravity is one sixth of Earth’s gravity) and in microgravity (in space), occupy less 0.12 cubic meter and make no more noise than a bathroom ventilation (60 decibels).
Above all, they should allow simultaneous defecation and urination, be able to receive one liter of urine and 500 grams of feces (including diarrhea) per event and 114 grams per day of menstruation. They should be cleanable in five minutes and contain odors and drops in the necessarily narrow passenger compartment of the vehicle.
The waste must be able to be stored or evacuated outside (for Apollo, the urine was discharged into space, “where it immediately froze in a shower of sparkling ice crystals“, according to author Craig Nelson).
Another detail for those who would be interested (deadline August 17): “bonus points will be given to designs capable of collecting vomiting without requiring the crew member to put their head in the toilet“.