Here Are The Winners Of NASA's Space Poop Challenge!


Going to space is already terrifying, but doing some basic stuff also gets weird AF. Space is not the most sanitary place, fellas. When you have to poop, for example, you need to put up with a lot...


Astronauts have only one substitute option for a space toilet: diapers. And it doesn’t sound fun...

NASA and online crowdsourcing platform HeroX announced the winners of the Space Poop Challenge, a global competition to come up with sanitary solutions for human waste management inside a spacesuit.

More than 19,000 people submitted over 5,000 solutions.

“The response to the Space Poop Challenge exceeded all of our expectations,” Steve Rader, NASA Tournament Lab Deputy Director, said in a press release. “The level of participation and interest went far beyond what we expected for such a short competition.”

Astronauts may have to wear a spacesuit for up to 10 hours at a time during the launch or landing phases.

Or even up to six days if something catastrophic happens.

The rules for the challenge were pretty simple:

The space suit must be able to collect human waste for up to six days and route it away from the body without the astronauts having to use their hands. This system must also be able to operate in space conditions and keep the astronaut alive and healthy.

And here are the winners!

Thatcher Cardon (First Place, $15,000)

Solution: MACES Perineal Access & Toileting System (M-PATS).

He says “[I] spent some time lying down, eyes closed, just visualizing different solutions and modeling them mentally,” Cardon said. “Over time the winning system of ideas coalesced. Then I packed up the family and we drove around Del Rio, TX to dollar stores, thrift stores, craft stores, clothing, and hardware stores to get materials for mockups.”

His design features a hygiene wand, which is covered with tubular fabric and can be used instead of toilet paper, and underwear that resembles a maxi pad and unfolds inside the space suit.

Katherine Kin, Stacey Marie Louie, and Tony Gonzales (Second Place, $10,000)

Solution: Space Poop Unification of Doctors (SPUDs) Team — Air-powered Spacesuit Waste Disposal System.

The team proposed an Air-Powered Urine and Stool Handling (Air-PUSH) system that uses natural body movements to carry waste away from the astronaut. The system disinfects and dries the waste while maintaining hygienic conditions.

“We originally joined the competition with the goal of having fun while tackling a unique challenge with friends,” Gonzales tells. “We are just happy and excited to have the opportunity to contribute our ideas. Hopefully, both astronauts and people down here on Earth will be able to benefit as well.”

Hugo Shelley (Third Place, $5,000)

Solution: SWIMSuit — Zero Gravity Underwear for 6-Day Use.

Hugo Shelley is the founder of Iota Technology, a London-based design, and prototyping company. He has worked on a variety of projects, from industrial sensors to educational robots for children.

“I have been in love with the idea of space travel since I was seven years old, and have always dreamed of working for NASA,” Shelley said. “The thought that my design might be used in a spacesuit is incredibly exciting, and when I heard about the competition through HeroX I felt compelled to join in.”

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