NASA recently awarded five creative designers for their innovative space suit ideas that will enable NASA astronauts to poop in space during emergency situations. Astronauts poop in diapers currently which is only feasible for hours, but what happens if they have to stay in a space suit for days at time? That's where the winners of the Space Poop Challenge come in.
The US space agency commenced the competition in October where 20,000 from all over the globe submitted their space poop solutions. The total grand prize is $30,000 to be awarded to anyone who can come up with a space suit system that could collect human waste for up to six days. Ideally, body wastes should be routed it away without the use of hands., and it had to work in microgravity, where solids, fluids and gases typically float.
Winning $15,000, and placing first, is air force officer, flight surgeon and family practice physician Thatcher Cardon. His design will allow NASA astronauts to efficiently direct away feces and other wastes from the body and store them in a secure pouch through a small hole connected to a small airlock in the groin area of the suit. He references his experience in surgery for his design, The Guardian reports.
Second place, winning $10,000 went to a team from Houston. The team consists of doctor Tony Gonzales, dentist Katherine Kin and University of Houston engineering professor Stacey Louie. They developed an “air-push urinary girdle”, which uses air to push urine or menstrual waste down through an exit tube, the NPR reports.
British designer Hugo Shelley came in third, winning $5,000 with his external catheter design. It combines mechanism for compressing, sealing, and sanitizing solid waste, and storing it in the back of the suit. The next step is to start prototyping the ideas, get working versions of a waste-management system, and test them on NASA astronauts in the International Space Station.