Are you looking for a way to pay for all of those Christmas bills you’re sure to ring up this holiday season? Do you want to do something for your country that doesn’t involve boot camp or campaigning? Have you ever contemplated ways to go for long periods without going to the bathroom? Then NASA’s Space Poop Challenge is definitely for you!
The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seeks proposed solutions for fecal, urine, and menstrual management systems to be used in the crew’s launch and entry suits over a continuous duration of up to 144 hours. An in-suit waste management system would be beneficial for contingency scenarios or for any long duration tasks.
Yes, it’s a terrible name but it was created by the same people who have no good ideas other than adult diapers for helping astronauts answer nature’s call while stuck in the same spacesuit for hours and even days. That’s right. After over 50 years of space travel, NASA has no innovative, effective and hygienic ways for astronauts to collect and store fecal, urine and menstrual fluids inside a spacesuit for more than a few hours. So the agency is turning to the public for help.
The challenge offers up to $30,000 USD in prizes to innovative solutions for long duration waste management in a microgravity environment. NASA will award up to three prizes for the best ideas.
The contest is being managed for NASA by HeroX, a website hosting incentive-based competitions. It contains details on the spacesuit (the new Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit to be used by astronauts on the Orion spacecraft) and the challenges.
In the event of cabin depressurization or other contingency, crew members may need to take refuge in their launch and entry suits for a long-duration: 144 hours. The crew member will have less than 60 minutes to get into and seal their spacesuit. To ensure the crew member's safety, the solution [proposed system] needs to take no more than five minutes [to set up and integrate with the spacesuit].
Don’t forget that all of this must be done in zero gravity – nothing distracts a space-walking astronaut making critical repairs like a floater.
The Space Poop Challenge is open for submissions until December 20th and the winners will be announced on January 31, 2017.
Even if you don’t win, you may come up with a great solution for your next road trip, ice fishing vacation or pub crawl.