NASA has a solution to an awkward problem. Space Poop Challenge completed
What is an astronaut to do who is hit by an emergency and needs to get settled, and is in space clothed in a sealed spacesuit? NASA engineers could not cope with this problem and turned to the public for help by launching the Space Poop Challenge. After several months of competition, NASA has chosen the best solution in their opinion.
The difficulties thatóastronauts face are many. They also include such a mundane issue as a visit to the toilet. Although it is not a simple matter. It’s cramped, there’s no gravity, and on top of that it’s unclear what to do with the waste.
The world’s most brilliant minds could not cope with the problem, so NASA zwróIt has asked the international community to solve it by setting a $30,000óin the Space Poop Challenge prizes.
Currently on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA uses toilet facilities thatóre suck up fecal matter and które then removed or recycled. However, NASA’s problem was an emergency situation, when some kind of malfunction occurs and the astronaut has to stay in the suit for a long time.
Since the 1980s., That is, since the end of the Apollo program, the cosmonauts have been no further than the ISS. But there are definitely more ambitious lifts on the horizonóThat, if only to Mars. What happens in the event of some malfunction, która will force the astronautów to stay in spacesuits for several days?
The premise of the Space Poop Challenge was to develop a safe and effective system suitable for installation in spacesuits, który móhead would accumulate waste and would operate for 144 hours. Diapers, whichóre are used today, in the case of such a long time will not pass the test. After six days in such a diaper, new life can arise, but NASA had no idea of a better solution. Until now.
The condition was also to leave the astronaut’s hands free. None of the astronautsów does not have access directly to his own body. Can’t even scratch its nose. Therefore, the waste management system had to be designed for a pressurized survival suit environment.
Award for family doctor and former military officer
Space Poop Challenge launched at the end of November and 20,000 people took partób presenting more than five thousand ideasów. NASA chose the solution presented by family physician and surgeon Dr. Thatcher Cardon, whoóry took the idea from its daily practice.
Its solution is very simple. The idea is to install small, two-stage airlocks in the spacesuits. In the first stage, the airlock on the side of the astronaut’s body opens and absorbs impurities and then closes. After which the airlock on the outer side opens allowing the dirt to be ejectedóinto space.
On top of that, the idea is to install the pool in the suitsóin medical suits commonly used in hospitals, but in an inflatable form. All connected by tubes sucking up waste and then ejecting it into space.