Current spacesuits used by astronauts in various missions don’t measure up with man’s ambition of space exploration. One of the problems that needs to be resolve is the management of urine, fecal and menstrual systems for astronauts still geared up with the spacesuit.
Nature’s call can arrive sometimes in unexpected moments. Although on Earth it is only an inconvenience, for astronauts it can be an extremely serious problem. To find better solutions, NASA has launched the Space Poop Challenger to all parties interested in developing a new system for this problem.
NASA has not changed how astronauts deal with this problem while wearing spacesuits since almost the first mission in space. Astronauts are required to wear diapers in which they can relieve themselves when needed. However, future missions can include longer exploration period without a toilet being readily available. It isn’t good for the health of anyone to stay more than a few hours with a filled diaper.
On a public statement posted on the HeroX website, meant for incentive-based competitions, NASA requires that a new human waste management system can be effective for up to six days. Additionally, the solution proposed needs to take less than five minutes to integrate with a spacesuit, just in case of an expected event, which forces astronauts to quickly gear up and live extended periods of time in the suit.
The Space Poop Challenge also requires that any solution or device is required to work in the microgravity of the pressurized suit. The developer of the new system must prevent any type of human waste, fluid or otherwise of floating around inside the suit. The waste management system will be developed with NASA’s Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit in mind. Astronauts on the Orion spacecraft mission will be the first ones to wear the suit in space.
According to NASA’s post on HeroX, the Space Poop Challenge deadline for all submissions is December 20th, 2016. The space agency will announce the winners on January 31st, 2017. If you are interested in the competition, you should check out all the guidelines and rules.
What do you think about NASA’s Space Poop Challenge?
Image source: NASA