NASA on Thursday launched a call to solicit the idea of the ultimate space toilet through the Lunar Toilet Challenge,media CNET reported. The winner of the Space Toilet Challenge can win $35,000. Although space toilets are already in use (the International Space Station plans to upgrade soon), they are designed only for microgravity environments. But space toilets also need to be able to work under the moon’s gravity. The moon’s gravity is about one-sixth that of the earth,’ so the way debris moves on the moon is somewhat different.
In addition to making the new toilet available in both microgravity and lunar gravity, it must also adhere to a strict set of specifications. It must have a mass of less than 15 kg under Earth’s gravity, occupy no more than 0.12 m cubic meters, consume less than 70 watts of power, operate a noise level of less than 60 decibels (no larger than a regular bathroom fan), and can accommodate female and male users of different sizes.
“While we may know how to make space toilets, we recognize that there are many innovations in waste management, from flush toilets to waterless toilets,” said Mike Interbartolo, lunar toilet challenge program manager at the HLS crew module office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “So we want to use this challenge to expand our knowledge base and find possible unknowns.” “
“We’re looking forward to seeing what the crowdsourced community can come up with and bring a different perspective to what’s needed for the toilet. “
NASA is working on designs to miniaturize and streamline existing toilets — the so-called “universal waste management system” — but needs the ideas of those who might use new and different methods rather than traditional space engineering to solve problems.
“Think about the toilet needs, don’t worry about it being for the spacecraft,” Interbartolo added. “Break it down into basic functions for handling male/female urine, feces, menstruation, and how you can achieve an easy-to-use system in a compact and low quality way.” These concepts are similar to campers, boats, remote and untapped places. “
There are two categories in this challenge: the technical category and the primary category. The two categories are submitted no later than 5 p.m. EST on August 17 at 2 p.m. Pacific Time.