As the National Aeronautics and Space Administration plans for a return to the moon in 2024, a problem has become clear...  How will the astronauts go to the bathroom?

Yep, the good people at NASA have locked down almost every detail of our return to the lunar surface, except THAT one!  They've got the perfect rocket, the capsule, the moon lander, but they're still working on the Moon Toilet!

Enter the Lunar Loo Challenge!

NASA has partnered with a Kickstarter-like site called HeroX to sponsor a contest aimed at finding the developers of the next great space commode.

NASA has already announced they are working on a new toilet design for the International Space Station.  That toilet will be called the Universal Waster Management System.  For their Moon toilet, they are looking for a design that is different enough from the current ISS design for it to make sense for them to build and use it.

Since it does involve space travel, there are some very specific criteria the toilet must meet before the design will be considered:

  • It has to be able to accommodate the waste of two astronauts for at least two weeks.
  • It has to work in both microgravity (zero-G) and lunar gravity.
  • It can't use more than 70 Watts of power.
  • It can't be smelly.
  • It has to hold all sorts of waste including urine, feces, vomit, diarrhea, and menstrual fluids.
  • It has to accommodate both men and women.
  • It has to flush properly.
  • It has to be quick and easy to clean.
  • It has to be able to flush 500 grams (about 2 cups) of diarrhea in one sitting.  (They seem fixated on diarrhea - is that a big issue for astronauts?).
  • It has to be quiet. (No louder than 60 decibels, please.)

The person (or group) who's design is selected will receive a prize of $35,000!

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