Win $30,000 by designing a way for astronauts to poop in their spacesuits

By midian182 ยท 29 replies
Nov 29, 2016
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  1. Space travel poses a lot of problems for us humans. In addition to the extreme temperatures, vacuum, lack of gravity, radiation, etc. there are also our biological functions that need to be taken care of. Specifically: what’s the best way to go to the bathroom in a spacesuit?

    Toilets on spacecraft use fan-driven suction systems to store solid waste until such time that it can be disposed of. But NASA wants a method that can be used in astronauts’ spacesuits.

    In an emergency, the suits can provide clean air, shelter, water, and enough nutrients to keep a crew member alive for up to six days, but there still isn’t a way to adequately deal with bodily waste. Right now, the backup solution for suited astronauts who need to answer the call of nature is diapers, which get uncomfortable pretty fast once they're filled with feces, and can lead to infection when worn for longer than a day.

    To solve the poo problem, NASA has turned to crowdfunding platform HeroX to source a system that can collect 75 grams of fecal matter and 1 liter of urine per day, for six days. Anyone who comes up with a hands-free solution that can operate in microgravity and prevent leaking oxygen could win bounties up to $30,000.

    “As humans push beyond low-earth orbit to travel to the moon and Mars, we will have many problems to solve—most of them very complex, technical problems," said NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio in a video. "But some are as simple as 'How do we go to the bathroom in space?'"

    Think you could come up with an answer? Check out the full criteria for the system and make sure you enter before 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 20. Who knows, astronauts could one day be crapping into a system you designed.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 29, 2016

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,256   +454

    There is nothing quite like pooping in a zero gravity environment... feeling that turd not drop away and instead just endlessly bounce off your butt cheeks.

    This really is a serious challenge. Whoever comes up with an efficient fecal matter capture device and some sort of zero-G friendly anus cleansing system will be our hero, for sure.
  3. Lol :D that's mint IAMTHESTIG.
  4. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    That's EASY.

    Similar to the piddle tube, you have a two stage "airlock".

    One airlock canister evacuates air into space. Then the second lock is attached to the astronaut's anus.

    He poops.

    Then the second canister sucks the poop and pee into the first using a valve that can be depressurized.

    Then the first airlock is now filled with poop and pee.

    That airlock allows itself to be sucked out into space - which resets the depressurized space for moar poop and pee.

    The poop and pee that has been jettisoned can now float through space till it gets to Uranus.
    dms96960 likes this.
  5. Lets just make sure there is never a malfunction when both valves are open and the entire person goes through that valve...
    Darth Shiv and OutlawCecil like this.
  6. gamerk2

    gamerk2 TS Booster Posts: 66   +53

    Thats not how that works; if anything all the breathable air would get sucked out (assuming that behind doesn't form a pressure seal at least...:/). But yeah, this is pretty much what I initially thought of. Either vent it all into space, or put it in some form of portable storage compartment.
  7. BURNHOT26

    BURNHOT26 TS Rookie

    He never mentioned the $30,000. I have a couple of good ideas running through my mind. With my eyes closed, I can literally see working animated 3d models of them operating. However without a guarantee giving me the rights them in the event one is considered. I'm hesitant about giving them away and trusting the system to be fair about it.
    alabama man likes this.
  8. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,347   +1,990

    The bigger problem would be clean up after the fact. A cranky astronaut with diaper rash doesn't sound like the basis of a successful mission. The fact is that NASA better be working on an alternative method to accommodate the needs of the space traveler like better dietary control or maybe they simply need to send up old people! After all, most seem to complain about constipation and going for a number of days without the urge ..... no?
    p51d007 likes this.
  9. RzmmDX

    RzmmDX TS Guru Posts: 313   +67

    This doesn't seem to be a $30,000 solution.

    Add more zeroes, or actually start evolving humans to have zero waste.

    Or we deploy robots for spacewalks instead. Seriously, why can't them just apply the remote surgical robots to this problem.
  10. mbrowne5061

    mbrowne5061 TS Evangelist Posts: 747   +357

    That actually would be an example of a bad idea. Used over 6 days, that is a significant change in mass. If the astronaut was free floating in orbit (worst case scenario), then their orbit would change slightly each time they took a dump. Orbital calculations are tricky enough, lets not complicate the rescue process by adding in a 'poo coefficient' to the rendezvous plans.
  11. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,665   +1,949

    For whoever cracks it, will probably skip it from the CV to avoid being laughed at.

    Takes certain mindset to even want to get into this, likely a person with issues, your Garrison character...

  12. umbala

    umbala TS Maniac Posts: 197   +176

    Sorry, we're not sending you into outer space. Nice try though.
    alabama man likes this.
  13. Bigtruckseries

    Bigtruckseries TS Evangelist Posts: 583   +318

    YEAH - because the astronaut will be floating in orbit for 6 days, or long enough to re-enter Earth's atmosphere...

    But don't worry, cause running out of oxygen will kill him long before his lifeless husk ever begins to start the fiery fall.
  14. turismozilla

    turismozilla TS Addict Posts: 173   +55

    I can't picture a such a device without a tube up their @ss.
  15. BURNHOT26

    BURNHOT26 TS Rookie

    ...I'm going to make a list of names for that device right now:)
  16. dms96960

    dms96960 TS Addict Posts: 297   +59

    I saw what you did there at the end. LOL
  17. BURNHOT26

    BURNHOT26 TS Rookie

    This would be one giant gape for mans-hind.
    You could call/reference it:
    The Eternal Anus.
    The Anus Extension.
    Dunkin' Do-nauts
    Doo Doo Honor me
    Eva-Q-Mate or Evac-U-Mate
    Relative Doo-mitity
    Think of the Poo-sibilities
    Third Hand in your can.
    4G Breezeway.
    The grosser grocer
    The End times
    Shat vac
    End not want knot.
    The Backlogger
    DuPonts' DoPoonts
    The Matt Damon Redeemer
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  18. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    A zipper from front to back in the crotch area and an enema. Where's my 30 K?
  19. Moneyd623

    Moneyd623 TS Member Posts: 19

    How about the 3 Seashells method they used in Demolition man? Should eliminate the need for TP at least!
  20. ghostf1re

    ghostf1re TS Booster Posts: 174   +70

    So how do they wipe their ***? I'm sorry but being on a several hour EVA with **** on my *** is not exactly what I would be looking forward to. Especially if it happens soon after the EVA starts. Imagine those crusted dingleberries?
  21. Panamapatrick

    Panamapatrick TS Rookie

    I have a friend Richard H., very smart, he will know the answer.
  22. C Heald

    C Heald TS Rookie

    What condition are their bowels in when they poop? What are we talking about? A healthy log? Small deer pebbles? What? More liquid than solid? Soft and sticky? Different types of turd would require different ways of evacuation to work. I feel like if I sat down and put some thought into it I could come up with something, but it's imperative to know exactly what kind of material we're working with.
  23. Jack007

    Jack007 TS Booster Posts: 181   +42

    This is so ridiculous I doubt it will get done. How many ppl actually know what it is to do stuff in zero gravity. Oh yes the astronauts on the mir station know. Why dont we ask them
  24. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,187   +470

    The answer is all of them, of course.
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  25. PrimateGod

    PrimateGod TS Rookie

    Send up those 2 girls with their cup

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