Nasa launch competition to design a toilet for use on the Moon

Katie Ramirez
June 27, 2020

"As NASA astronauts prepare to set their boots on the Moon in 2024, we're turning to the global network of problem solvers to design the next-generation lunar toilet", said Mike Interbartolo, project manager for the Lunar Loo Challenge in the HLS Crew Compartment Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

The toilet has a few special requirements not needed by traditional loo designers - for example it has to ensure its users aren't exposed to vacuum during use. Their designs have to be lighter than 15kg in Earth's gravity, no larger than 0.12m and no louder than the average bathroom fan, and the must be able to cater to all the toilet needs of its female and male users safely and securely. This would be the first of its kind. However, what NASA is looking for this time around is something smaller, more efficient, and functional in microgravity and the gravity that exists on the Moon.

These designs may be adapted for use in the Artemis lunar landers that take humanity back to the Moon, said NASA. The astronauts also left bags of waste on the Moon's surface, which Nasa has said it one day hopes to study for signs of life. The astronauts will be living in the pressurized crew cabin part of the lander for at least a week (on early missions).

Any designs that are submitted must align with NASA's overall goals of reducing mass and lowering power consumption - they also have to be easy to maintain. What it will need to handle is an atmosphere of a sixth of the gravity of Earth. But they are designed for microgravity, rather than the stronger gravity experienced on the lunar surface.

NASA's new Artemis Agreements govern how we work together and safely explore the moon and Mars

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) needs to put the loo in lunar. In addition to the awards, design winners will have the opportunity to talk directly with NASA engineers about their proposed toilet designs.

By the way, as if the incentive of your invention landing on the Moon isn't enough, the victor will receive $35,000 and may have their design adapted for use on the Artemis landers. The deadline for publishing the models is August 17 and the winners will be introduced in October.

Who knows when or where might even come up with some brilliant idea - maybe even on an actual toilet?

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