NASA Latest News & Update: NASA Will Reward $30K To Anyone Who Wins ‘Space Poop Challenge’

By Arianne Gift , Updated Dec 01, 2016 08:02 AM EST

NASA is searching for someone to develop a spacesuit that's capable of collecting human waste for up to six days. Dubbed the "Space Poop Challenge," NASA officials have launched the initiative with a reward of $30,000 in prize money for anyone who can design a hygienic spacesuit plumbing system.

NASA Wants You To Help Astronauts Deal With Their Poo In Space

Space travel presents NASA scientists with insurmountable challenges. The technological feat of getting human beings off the planet is colossally impressive already, but aside from that, scientists have to figure out how to keep astronauts healthy with proper nutrition and no-gravity exercise once they're up in space.

What most of us don't realize is that part of scientists' work is to find out the proper way of disposing astronaut fecal matter on long missions in spacesuits. This dilemma has NASA scientists stumped, so they've decided to take suggestions from the public.

In October, NASA launched the "Space Poop Challenge" via Herox, the crowdsourcing platform. Anyone can submit a proposal until December 20. A video posted in Vimeo shows astronaut Richard Mastracchio explaining why human waste is a serious challenge in space missions.

What Prompted The NASA "Space Poop Challenge"

"I can tell you that space flight is not always glamorous if people need to go to the bathroom, even in a space craft," Mastracchio said. "How is this waste treated such that it does not harm the astronaut, or even kill them," the astronaut continued.

What NASA is looking to create is a device that will fit inside a spacesuit, where it can collect and store 75 milliliters of fecal matter, 13 milliliters of menstrual blood and 1 liter urine per day for six days. Currently, astronauts use diapers for urine, but this would result to irritation and risk infection for prolonged use.

Anybody has the chance to win $30,000 by pitching their ideas on Herox. The initiative may sound comical, but NASA is adamant this predicament be solved.

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