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NASA Announces “Space Poop Challenge” Winners

The "Space Poop Challenge" received more than 5,000 proposed solution for how do deal with human waste in fully-suited astronauts. Photo: NASA

As humans travel farther into space, heading to places like the moon or Mars, astronauts are going to be in their space suits longer – up to 6 days. So NASA needs a way to deal with waste while astronauts are locked in their suits.

They asked the public for written ideas for a system that routes and collects human waste away from the body, hands-free, for fully suited astronauts.

NASA and crowdsourcing website partner HeroX received more than 5,000 proposed solutions. “It was wonderful to see the global response from our crowdsourcing challenge,” said Kirstyn Johnson, Space Suit Technology Engineer at NASA. “We enjoyed seeing the innovative approaches that were sent in given such a demanding scenario. Others at NASA are now thinking about ways we can leverage a crowdsourcing approach to solve some more of our spaceflight challenges.”

The first place winner is a Nevada family physician and flight surgeon. The second place team is a group of doctors that call themselves the Space Poop Unification of Doctors (SPUDs). The third place winner is a designer from London.

The winning solutions included an in-suit toilet system, an air-powered disposal system and a zero gravity underwear design.

More than 150 teams from every country and continent on Earth, including Antarctica, participated in the challenge. In total, $30,000 in prize money was awarded.

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Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Intersection' Producer

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts "Are We There Yet?", WMFE's space exploration podcast He also helps produce WMFE's twice-weekly public affairs show "Intersection," working with host Matthew Peddie to shape the ... Read Full Bio »