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NASA will pay you to design a space toilet that works in lunar gravity


Now you have the opportunity to design the space toilet that was built only for astronauts.


If you could create a toilet worthy of space travel, what would it look like? NASA is preparing to return to the moon by 2024, and it needs help to develop a new way for astronauts to do business on their trips to the lunar surface and back.

NASA called for ideas for the ultimate space toilet with the Lunar Loo Challenge on Thursday. The space toilet challenge winner won $ 35,000 for the top concept (approximately £ 28,000, AUD 51,000).

Although room toilets are already in use (the The International Space Station will soon receive an upgrade) they are only designed for weightlessness. Microgravity is when there is zero gravity in space, and NASA’s toilet technology has already addressed this problem. But the new toilets must also be able to work in the moon’s gravity. The moon’s gravity is about a sixth of the earth’s gravity, so our descent on the moon moves slightly differently.


Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shows the hose on the current toilet when you have to pee.

Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton / CNET

In addition to the new toilet function in both weightlessness and moon gravity, a number of strict specifications must be met. It must have a mass of less than 15 kilograms in the Earth’s gravity, have a volume of no more than 0.12 meters of cubes, consume less than 70 watts of power, work with a noise level of less than 60 decibels (no louder than one average bathroom fan). and accommodate both female and male users of different shapes and sizes.

“Although we may know how to make space toilets, we recognize that there are many innovations in waste management, from non-flushable toilets to waterless toilets and more,” said Mike Interbartolo, project manager for the Lunar Loo Challenge in the HLS crew Compartment Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “So we wanted to expand our knowledge base by using this challenge to find the unknowns that may exist.

“We look forward to seeing what the crowdsourcing community can bring up to date and opening up different perspectives on what is needed for a toilet.”


Here you can see a prototype of the new Universal Waste Management System with urine tanks.


NASA is working on designs to miniaturize and rationalize existing toilets – the so-called “Universal Waste Management System” – but needs ideas from people who may be able to solve the problem with new and different approaches instead of traditional aerospace technology.

“Think about the needs of the toilet and don’t worry that it’s a spaceship,” added Interbartolo. “Divide it into the basic functions required for handling male / female urine, stool, menstruation and for a compact and low-mass procedure for a user-friendly system. These concepts are similar for campers, boats, remote and undeveloped places. “

This challenge has two categories: technical and junior. Submissions for both categories are due no later than 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on August 17th.

Don’t toilet your thing? In April, NASA asked for ideas for miniaturized payloads onboard Roomba-sized roovers in the challenge “Honey, I Shrunk the NASA Payload” to the moon.

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