NASA admits it needs help dealing with astronaut poop

Posted Nov 29, 2016 by Owen Weldon
NASA is having a hard time figuring out what to do with space poop, or astronaut poop. This is why they're asking inventors to think of a solution.
bissartig via Pixabay
The space agency recently launched its HeroX competition. Inventors are going to think of solutions to the space poop problem and the three best ideas will be awarded $30,000.
Ever since the 1980s, NASA astronauts have only ventured to the International Space Station in low-earth orbit. They have never been further than that.
The ISS is equipped with a toilet device that vacuums up and stores fecal matter and urine. It eventually gets disposed of safely or it becomes drinking water after it has been recycled.
However, if the spacecraft became cracked and pressure was lost, then astronauts would have to poop straight into their suits. This isn't too bad because they could be back in Earth within a few hours and can clean themselves up. In the future, this could pose a problem because NASA could one day send astronauts to Mars.
The challenge is simple, but finding a good solution is probably not. NASA wants inventors to create an in-suite waste management system that astronauts could use for up to 144 hours at a time.
As of now, there's nothing on the market that can achieve what NASA wants. HeroX's website notes that the commercial products out there can only manage urine waste by routing it and collecting it away from the body. They added that some require hands in order to get the job done.
There's no guarantee that the winners' idea will actually be implemented. However, they will still receive an award. The deadline to enter the contest is December 20, and more information can be found on the HeroX website.