NASA is asking inventors and entrepreneurs to create a toilet to manage waste from astronauts on a nine-month journey to Mars.
The latest US-based space agency has teamed up with HeroX to launch this campaign. It is headquartered in Houston, Texas.
Known as the ‘Waste to Base Challenge’, it asks the public to provide inventive approaches to waste management and conversion in four categories – faecal waste, trash, foam packaging and carbon dioxide processing.
Each winner will receive $1,000, and the top ideas might be used in future NASA technology to travel to Mars.
NASA is asking inventors and entrepreneurs to create a toilet capable of handling the waste from astronauts on a nine-month journey to Mars. The prototype for a moon loo is here
Future Mars missions, which include time on Mars, may take three years. However, there is not much scope to dispose of or gather new material.
NASA has begun to seek out solutions for waste management that can be used on future Mars spacecrafts.
Space agencies traditionally put out projects for tender. Large engineering firms bid to be the first to develop and design a solution.
In recent years, NASA has used the HeroX platform to seek inspiration from a wider variety of sources — sometimes in the form of a competition.
HeroX seeks ‘innovative ways to repurpose recycle and reprocess the onboard waste to ensure mission sustainability for this project.
Because logistics to supply Mars missions can be very complicated, it is essential that the spacecraft are as self-sufficient and efficient as possible.
This is a challenge that focuses on converting waste into base materials or other useful items, such as base matter and propellant for 3D printing.
Spokesperson: “The challenge lies in looking for ideas on how to transform different waste streams into propellant, into useful materials that then can be made into required things and cycled multiple times,”
NASA believes that a cycle with a high degree of efficiency can not be created, although it’s possible.
NASA may eventually combine all of these processes to create a strong ecosystem which allows spacecrafts to be launched from Earth at the lowest mass possible.
‘This is exactly what our crowd is poised to do: solve intractable problems with an eye for efficiency and sustainability,’ said Kal K. Sahota, President & CEO of HeroX. I am looking forward to seeing the submissions.
Each of the following four categories has multiple winners: trash, waste from feces, foam packaging materials, carbon dioxide processing.
The winners will be awarded a prize of $1,000 (£735) and judges will recognise four ideas as ‘best in class’ with an additional prize of $1,000.
In total the prize purse is worth $24,000 (£17,650), and the best ideas could later be commissioned and integrated into NASA missions.
The prize is open to anyone aged 18 or older, with both teams and individuals invited to take part — from any country where the US has no sanctions.
Current ISS sanitation system. Female astronauts may have problems with space toilets because they were designed for men.
The latest US-based space agency has teamed up with HeroX to launch this campaign.
NASA Artemis’ ultimate goal is to send missions to Mars. The program will begin in 2011 with an uncrewed mission around the moon.
NASA will launch the Orion capsule in 2024 with its full crew, and then the Orion capsule to orbit the moon. Artemis III is the year that Artemis III sends the first woman, and the second man, to reach the surface.
NASA will use the Artemis program to send humans and robots to the moon, allowing them both to discover more than they have ever seen before.
A sustainable lunar presence is also desired to be a “stepping stone” for the first mission of humans to Mars.