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Help us improve pooping on the moon again

Was there ever a more important duty? (heh … duty)

When Apollo astronauts returned to the moon in the 1

960s, they arrived on a spaceship with zero baths. To become number one, NASA provided them with a rubber hose that the crew could wear as a condom this would take the pee away in a container or in space. For number two, the agency has come up with a cutting-edge, high-tech solution: poop bags.

For its next trip to the moon scheduled for 2024, NASA is really trying to prevent this from happening again.

“It was messy,” said Mike Interbartolo, one of the people working on NASA’s human Earth’s lunar system, in an interview with the limit. “You had no odor control. The crew hated it. It wasn’t easy to get a good seal on the bag without your friend having to help. And that’s not the way we want to go back to the moon over 50 years later.”

This was the impetus behind the Lunar Loo Challenge, an open call for new innovative space toilet projects launched this week by NASA. Although many are already equipped at the International Space Station, these models are designed exclusively for use in microgravity, i.e. that type of floaty “Zero gravity” that you see in the movies.

For astronauts linked to the moon in its Artemis program, NASA is looking for a toilet that also works on the surface of the Moon, where gravity is roughly one sixth of that of Earth.

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“The design and development of new lunar toilets may not be as exciting or intriguing as the development of tools to support exploration of the lunar surface, but the need is just as important,” said NASA. in a post outlining the contest.

“These astronauts will eat and drink, and subsequently urinate and defecate in microgravity and lunar gravity. While astronauts are in the cabin and outside of spacesuits, they will need a toilet that has all the same capabilities as those here on Earth. “

The contest (you can enter here) has a deadline of August 17 and a prize pool of $ 35,000 will be split between the teams behind the first three projects, as decided by a group of NASA engineers. There is also a junior category for those under 18 to present projects.

Understandably, NASA has compiled a long list of specific requests for the winning projects. In addition to having a certain size and weight, the toilet must be energy efficient, not too time consuming to use and must be suitable for women and men as NASA’s Artemis program aims to send the first woman on the moon together with the next. This lunar throne must also be capable of containing a rainbow of bodily excretions, including “urine, stool, vomiting, diarrhea, [and] Menses.”

Illustration for the article titled NASA: Help Us Make Pooping on the Moon Even Better

“Going to poop on the moon is not a top priority, but we don’t want to make it an unhappy experience for the crew,” he told Verge Interbartolo, who is also the project manager of the challenge. “We want to make it as comfortable and as close to home life as possible.”

As part of the Artemis program, astronauts could spend as many six and a half days on the surface of the Moon, so keeping it is not an option. For safety, NASA guidelines for the Lunar Loo challenge specify that winning projects must be able to support a crew of two astronauts for at least 14 days.

Although I’m excited to see what people are thinking of, it is true that the bar is quite low when you remember how the Apollo 11 team was scolding him. Basically, as long as the solution does not involve tying a bag to an astronaut’s butt, it will be a marked improvement.

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