We can put a man in space, but once he's there, NASA still has no idea what to do with his crap.
Here's where you come in: NASA will award $US30,000 ($40,506) to whoever can solve their space poo problem. Astronaut Rick Mastracchio asks you to "imagine a scenario where a crew is on their way to the moon, and there is an emergency where the vehicle begins losing cabin pressure. The crew will need to quickly put on space suits to protect themselves from the vacuum of space."
"I can tell you that space flight is not always glamorous," Mastracchio emphasises. "People need to go to the bathroom even in a spacecraft. How is this waste treated such that it does not harm the astronaut or even kill them?"
Since the spaceship no longer provides that protection, the astronauts need a suit to provide "clean air, water, shelter and enough nutrients for up to six days" until they can safely return to the hellish planet we call Earth. But what do you do if you need to pee or poo? What happens if a lady astronaut gets her period?
Going to the bathroom in a space suit exposes you to infection and sepsis. Although NASA has the technology to send people to outer space, the agency is still using an antiquated technology called "nappies" — babies, you know what I'm talking about — to deal with this astronaut waste problem.
There's not much room inside the suit, so whatever you come up with ought to be small. Yahoo reports:
The problem is that in weightlessness, fluids can blob up and stick to surfaces, while solids float in the air. "You don't want any of these solids and fluids stuck to your body for six days," NASA said, recalling how easy babies can get [nappy] rash.
You might've given up on your dreams of being an astronaut long ago, but you can still help conquer space. It's up to you to solve the space poo problem. So tap into the depths of your consciousness, dear readers, and discover the poo genius living inside you. The deadline for submissions is December 20.