Have you ever thought that you could make money by designing compact toilets for space? As astronauts prepare to go back to the Moon in 2024 via Artemis lunar lander, NASA seeks new designs for a toilet that can work both in microgravity and lunar gravity. This ‘Lunar Toilet Challenge’ has a total prize purse of $35,000 (which translates to approx. INR 2,644,075).
The US space agency wants to encourage the next generation of space explorers, engineers, and scientists who may think about this design problem without the same constraints as adults. Therefore, this Lunar Toilet Challenge will witness participation from the main Technical category as well as a Junior category. Mind you! To participate under the Junior category, you must be less than 18. This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category. The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise.
According to NASA, “These designs may be adapted for use in the Artemis lunar landers that take us back to the Moon. Although space toilets already exist and are in use (at the International Space Station, for example), they are designed for microgravity only. NASA is looking for a next-generation device that is smaller, more efficient, and capable of working in both microgravity and lunar gravity.”
As getting back to the Moon by 2024 is an ambitious goal, NASA is already working on approaches to miniaturize and streamline the existing toilets. At the same time, they are also inviting ideas from the global community in order to find out how they will approach the problem with a mindset different from traditional aerospace engineering. NASA is hopeful that this challenge will attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment.
With the return to the Moon, NASA revealed that innumerable activities to equip, shelter and otherwise support future astronauts are underway. The US space agency also stated that these astronauts will be eating and drinking, and subsequently urinating and defecating in microgravity and lunar gravity. While astronauts are in the cabin and out of their spacesuits, they will need a toilet that has all the same capabilities as ones here on Earth.
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