NASA offering cash prizes for lunar toilet concepts
NASA's Artemis mission will (hopefully) take astronauts to the Moon in 2024 … and when those people get there, they'll need to go to the bathroom. With that in mind, the space agency is now looking to the public for ideas for "moon toilets."
Called the Lunar Loo Challenge, the 8-week project was launched this Thursday, and is being run by NASA on the HeroX crowdsourcing platform. It's open to anyone, from any country.
A total of US$35,000 will be awarded to the individuals or teams responsible for the three most compelling design concepts – winners will also have a chance to talk to NASA engineers about their idea, plus they'll get a private tour of the Johnson Space Center (travel to Houston is not included).
That prize package is only open to entrants aged 18 or older, although there's a separate Junior category for younger people. In its case, the three winners will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed swag.
Along with being able to work with the Moon's low lunar gravity, the toilet will also need to function in the microgravity of outer space while en route – it will be situated within the Artemis lunar lander, not in some sort of lunar outhouse. Additionally, the device will have to be compact and lightweight, water- and energy-efficient, quiet-flushing, usable by both men and women, and capable of handling both solid and liquid waste. A complete list of requirements can be found on the contest website.
Submissions are due by Aug. 17th, with winners of the main Technical category being announced on Sept. 30th. The Junior winners will be announced Oct. 20th.
"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. "As we prepare for this extraordinary event, we can't forget about the ordinary needs of our astronauts."
Source: Lunar Loo Challenge