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15 Days Left – How to get involved with NASA? Crowdsourcing ideas for NASA’s Space Poop Challenge – If You know the Best Way to Poop in a Spacesuit, the Agency Wants to Hear It (The Deadline is Dec. 20. 2016)
Got A Great Idea For Designing and Dealing With Poop In A Spacesuit? Space Poop Challenge: NASA Seeks Solutions To Astronauts’ Potty Problems
Since 2011, NASA has been using crowdsourcing to help them solve some of the problems that crop up on the International Space Station (ISS), from coming up with solutions to the difficulties of astronauts exercising in space, and the risks of Galactic.
The space agency is seeking solutions “for fecal, urine, and menstrual management systems to be used in the crew’s launch and entry suits over a continuous duration of up to 144 hours (6 days).”
NASA is asking for everyone’s help making the solar system’s most portable port-a-potty in coming up with new ways they can handle needs the human beings who are astronauts have in terms of waste.
“What’s needed is a system inside a space suit that collects human waste for up to 144 hours and routes it away from the body, without the use of hands. The system has to operate in the conditions of space — where solids, fluids, and gases float around in microgravity (what most of us think of as ‘zero gravity’) and don’t necessarily mix or act the way they would on earth. This system will help keep astronauts alive and healthy over 6 days, or 144 hrs,” NASA explained in a statement.
Currently, astronauts wear diapers during launching, landing and spacewalking. However, diapers are only a very temporary solution, and can’t provide adequate protection for longer than one day. Given that astronauts can find themselves in spacesuits for up to 10 hours at a time — or up to 6 days if something catastrophic happens while in space — a new solution is sorely needed.
The new system would be included in NASA’s Modified Advanced Crew Escape Suit that will be used during the first crewed Orion missions. The winners will be announced Jan. 31, 2017, and NASA will award up to three prizes — adding up to a total of $30,000 — for the best ideas.
So, if you think you are up to this scatological challenge, you can submit your proposal here before Dec. 20. After all, as the folks over at NASA helpfully point out: “when you gotta go, you gotta go. And sometimes you gotta go in a total vacuum.”
The “Space Poop Challenge” — that’s what it’s called, we’re not making this up — is the latest project of the NASA Tournament Lab, a program to invite members of the public to help come up with “novel ideas or solutions” for space-related problems. It’s hosted on HeroX, a crowdsourcing platform.
And here’s the challenge: Create an “in-suit waste management system” that can handle six days’ worth of bathroom needs.
The logistics of pooping in space, in general, have long been resolved. Astronauts at the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth for months, have some noisy contraptions with vacuums, fans, hoses and bags that take care of business.
But those space toilets won’t fit in a pressurized spacesuit — and they certainly aren’t hands-free.
“How has NASA handled this in the past? Well, for one thing, they weren’t handling it for 6 days,” HeroX explains.
Basically, when astronauts are in spacesuits they stick with diapers to handle waste. That’s fine for a few hours.
But someday NASA might send an astronaut on a mission that calls for spending days at a time in a suit.
NASA is looking for an idea for a solution that would collect feces, urine and menstrual fluid without relying on gravity, and then keep all that waste away from the body. And the astronaut has to be able to move, sit and squeeze into tight places without a problem. And it can’t take more than five minutes to implement the system. And it can’t cause any air leakage in the pressurized suit. And it has to be entirely hands-free in its operation. And it needs to work for both men and women of “varying size and weight.” And ideally it would be comfortable — physically, emotionally and psychologically — for the astronauts.
There’s nothing on the market now that comes close to achieving this, NASA says.
“Current commercial products that provide urine waste management utilize gravity to route and collect urine away from the body. Some require the use of hands,” the HeroX site notes. “No commercial products have been found that provide fecal waste management for a 144-hour period with or without the use of hands.”
NASA says that out of all the ideas presented through HeroX, up to three will be awarded, with up to $30,000 total in prize money. There’s a possibility that the idea might be implemented and your idea would actually help an astronaut find relief in space, although there’s no guarantee.
The deadline is Dec. 20. You can find more information about the contest here.
Space Poop Challenge
Description: The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) seeks proposed solutions for fecal, urine, and menstrual management systems to be used in the crew’s launch and entry suits over a continuous duration of up to 144 hours. An in-suit waste management system would be beneficial for contingency scenarios or for any long duration tasks.
Sponsoring/Partner Organizations: NASA
Benefits of Participation/Awards Available: $30,000
Open Date: October 11, 2016 Submissions Open
Close Date: December 20, 2016 Submission Deadline
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