A Crappy Problem to Solve
Aircraft mechanics have been known to solve problems. This goes back to Charles Taylor — the father of aircraft maintenance. Taylor designed and built the engine that powered the Wright Flyer into the history books (when engine manufacturers of the time said they couldn't do it). I've seen mechanics make turnbuckle wrenches to make cable rigging easier and faster. Tom Burden, a former Air Force mechanic, invented the Grypmat, a flexible tool tray, to help keep tools nearby without marring the aircraft surface. If you want to learn more, go to Grypmat.com. If you decide you would like to purchase a Grypmat, enter DOM10 at checkout to receive a 10% discount!
There is a new problem to solve. As the title says, this is a crappy problem. Maybe an aircraft mechanic can help solve it?
Basically, NASA wants to build a better toilet. It is seeking new designs for a toilet that will work both in microgravity and lunar gravity.
NASA and HeroX have launched the Lunar Loo Challenge. Here is an overview of the challenge:
"Artemis is NASA’s program to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024. Humanity is going back to the Moon to establish a presence that will enable eventual crewed journeys to Mars. As we prepare for our return to the Moon, innumerable activities to equip, shelter, and otherwise support future astronauts are underway. These astronauts will be eating and drinking, and subsequently urinating and defecating in microgravity and lunar gravity. While astronauts are in the cabin and out of their spacesuits, they will need a toilet that has all the same capabilities as ones here on Earth.
NASA is calling on the global community for their novel design concepts for compact toilets that can operate in both microgravity and lunar gravity. These designs may be adapted for use in the Artemis lunar landers that take us back to the Moon. Although space toilets already exist and are in use (at the International Space Station, for example), they are designed for microgravity only. NASA is looking for a next-generation device that is smaller, more efficient, and capable of working in both microgravity and lunar gravity. Getting back to the Moon by 2024 is an ambitious goal, and NASA is already working on approaches to miniaturize and streamline the existing toilets. But they are also inviting ideas from the global community, knowing that they will approach the problem with a mindset different from traditional aerospace engineering. This challenge hopes to attract radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment.
We want to encourage the next generation of space explorers, engineers, and scientists, and we know that students may think about this design problem without the same constraints as adults. So in addition to the main Technical category, this challenge will have a Junior category. To submit to the Junior category, you must be less than 18.
This Lunar Toilet Challenge has a total prize purse of $35,000 that will be shared among the teams submitting the top three designs in the Technical category. The top three participants in the Junior category will each receive public recognition and an item of official NASA-logoed merchandise."
So there you go — can you help design a toilet to help astronauts "go" on the Moon?
Don't delay — the deadline for submissions is August 17!
To learn more about this challenge, visit www.herox.com/LunarLoo.