NASA is offering an eye-watering $35,000 worth of prizes to anyone able to design a toilet that would work on the moon.
As part of the space agency’s Artemis programme, which aims to land the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024, NASA is also on a mission to install a working toilet on the lunar surface.
The competition, in partnership with HeroX, is called Lunar Loo Challenge, and offers up prizes worth as much as $35,000 (£28,000).
‘Lunar toilet design concepts should allow astronauts to urinate and defecate in both microgravity and lunar gravity,’ HeroX explained in a statement.
‘Microgravity is what is generally considered “zero-g” and is experienced as weightlessness. The g-force is not actually zero in microgravity; it is just very small. Lunar gravity is approximately one sixth of Earth’s gravity, so urine and feces will fall down.’
Not only must the toilets be fully functioning, but they must work well enough for two astronauts to use for the two weeks they plan to spend on the lunar surface of the moon.
‘Complete solutions will be ones that can support a crew of two astronauts for 14 days, while controlling odor, accommodating different types of waste (urine, feces, vomit, diarrhea, menses), and different gender users (female and male),’ HeroX added.
While we’d hope the chosen astronauts won’t suffer from travel sickness, it seems as though NASA and HeroX want to have them covered, because the toilets must also be able to accommodate vomit. Lovely.
Although the preferred method for capturing vomit will be emesis bags (throw up bags), bonus points will be awarded to designs that can capture vomit without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet.
The $35,000 prize fund will be split between three winning designers, with a prize of $20,000 for the first place submission, $10,000 for the second place submission and a very respectable $5,000 for the third place design.
So, if you think you’ve got the brains and the creativity to be able to say you designed the toilet for the first woman and the next man to land on the moon, head to HeroX’s website, where you can find a full list of all the specifications.
Submissions close on August 17 of this year, so if you want to be in with a shout, you best get that thinking cap on.
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