NASA has officially launched the Lunar Loo Challenge, a competition in collaboration with HeroX open to all in which it will be created the best toilet to bring to the moon on the occasion of Artemis, or for the next big trip in 2024.
The US space agency has invited designers and, in general, the “world community of innovators” to conceive and create concepts for a toilet usable in space and on the moon. There are already toilets used in the International Space Station, but they only work in microgravity and therefore not on lunar soil.
The Lunar Loo Challenge was initiated by the NASA’s Human Landing System Program and the NASA Tournament Lab Team and will run for eight weeks. The necessary requirements to bring the projects back into the competition are: zero-g and lunar gravity operation, low energy consumption (less than 70W), reduced volume and mass (less than 15kg with terrestrial gravity), noise less than 60 dB, ease of cleaning and optimized waste management.
The goal of the challenge, which actually follows the previous “Space Poop Challenge” of 2016, is to think about future of space missions ensuring as soon as possible the availability of tools like this, apparently trivial but important for every astronaut.
Project manager in charge of the Lunar Loo Challenge, Mike Interbartolo, has indeed stated that this initiative is necessary for “Don’t forget the needs of our astronauts” and to offer a sustainable presence on the Moon and perhaps in the future on Mars. But the latter mission will be discussed in 2030.
The three most interesting and, of course, perfectly functional designs will come rewarded with an overall prize pool of $ 35,000 and their creators will be able to talk about it together with NASA engineers, who will, therefore, give the winners the chance to be part of Artemis. The three best under-18 designers will be given instead NASA official certificates and merchandise for the occasion, as well as public recognition.