If you’ve ever wondered what sort of sophisticated, technologically advanced waste management astronauts use in outer space – well, the answer may surprise you. It’s a diaper. Yes, during launches, landings, or in case of emergencies, space travelers must wear an uncomfortable space diaper. It’s only a temporary solution, though, as keeping the waste so close to the skin for longer than a few hours can lead to infection, and even sepsis.
So NASA has recently come up with contest to help deal with the issue of space poop.
The newly launched Space Poop Challenge give anyone the chance to submit their ideas and designs for an alternative to the space diaper until December 20, for the chance to win up to $30,000.
Via Oddity Central:
There are a few things applicants must take into consideration when designing their systems. In the case of cabin depressurization or other contingencies, astronauts could be forced to spend a long time in their space suits, so the proposed system has to be able to handle human waste without the use of hands for up to 144 hours. Also, since crew member will have less than 60 minutes to get into and seal their spacesuit, the solution to the Space Poop Challenge needs to take no more than five minutes to integrate into the space suit. The system will also have to be light, and to be able to handle human waste at 3 to 4 Gs — the typical G-forces astronauts handle during a launch into Earth orbit. And lastly, the system has to be designed for the unique conditions of space, where solids, fluids, and gases float in microgravity and don’t mix the way they do on Earth.
“I can tell you that space flight is not always glamorous, and people need to go to the bathroom even in a spacecraft,” astronaut Richard Mastracchio says in a promotional video for the Space Poop Challenge. “How is this waste treated such that it does not harm the astronaut or even kill them? … This is the problem we are asking you to help us with.”
The deadline for submitting ideas for the Space Poop Challenge is December 20th, and the winners will be announced in January. For all the guidelines and rules, check out the official Space Poop Challenge page. (Top photo via Oddity Central)
Competition to source a system that routes and collects human waste away from the body, hands-free, for fully suited astronauts.