Nathanial Wells
June 26, 2020
6:06 a.m. PDT

Challenge Design Requirements

There is very little in the way of "exact" design perimeters when it comes to this challenge so I thought I would compile everything I have learned by looking at various websites and posts on this challenge, it is very early days so some information may change as time goes on but this is my best guess for now.

The first place winner is $20,000
The second place winner is $10,000
The third place winner is $5,000
All together its $35,000, that is how the money is divided
If you are under the age of 18 then you are given rewards from NASA such as recognition, certificates and other NASA related merchandise

The challenge is to find a new design for a space toilet that has to be smaller, more efficient and can be used in the micro-gravity of space, on the ISS and on the lunar surface, which is 1/ 6th of Earth gravity, current space toilets only work in micro-gravity and will not work on the lunar surface.

The challenge started on June 25th 2020 and ends on August 17th 2020.

According to interviews with NASA designer Michael Interbartolo the toilet must not weigh more than 15kg on Earth, be no larger than 0.12m3, be no louder than the average bathroom fan, must cater to both male and female astronauts, it must safe and secure to use and as a bonus, must be able to deal with sick crew members suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea in a convenient way "without requiring the crew member to put his/her head in the toilet".

Design Specifics are as follows:

Function in both micro-gravity and lunar gravity

Weigh less than 15kg on Earth

Occupy a volume no greater than 0.12 m3

Consume less than 70 Watts of power

Noise level must be lower than 60 decibels

Accommodate both male and female astronauts

Accommodate users ranging from 58 to 77 inches tall and 107 to 290lbs in weight

It has to be easy to use, have a fast turnaround time

It has a low odor

Allow for the transfer of waste to an external vehicle or tank

Allows for the use of toiletry products and there disposal

Accommodates the needs of 2 crew members for 14 days

Has the ability to stabilise urine collection

That's all I have for now, there isn't much in the way of a clear design specification nor much on why ISS toilets don't work on the moon but do work on Earth, I have messaged HeroX with a request of more information and will add to this post when I have more information, in the meantime have fun designing!
11 Replies

June 27, 2020
1:25 a.m. PDT
That is a great idea to message HeroX about this. Would you like us to be a team together? We will definitely win 😊
Tagged: Nathanial Wells

Nathanial Wells
June 27, 2020
7:03 a.m. PDT
@Nathanial Wells
Okay, I messaged HeroX about this and they linked me to my own post, so, either they don't know or the competition is too early in development for them to say, either way, nothing else has changed, I do have a few ideas on the challenge but they were all shot down when I found out how big this thing actually has to be, 0.12 m3 is incredibly small, I made a crude box which shows how much space you have.
Tagged: Nathanial Wells

Nathanial Wells
June 27, 2020
9:27 a.m. PDT
@Nathanial Wells
Nope, I made a mistake a misplaced the m3 in my calculations, thought it was 12x12x12 inches, actual size is about half the size of the toilet on the ISS or about 30 gallon fish tank, also, the reason why the ISS toilet is no good is because it still uses the whole "poop in a bag" system, NASA want an all in one system like on Earth, back to the drawing board then!
Tagged: Nathanial Wells

Nathan Moore
June 27, 2020
9:32 p.m. PDT
1 m3 is 1*1*1m
0.12 m3 = cube-root(0.12)*cube-root(0.12)*cube-root(0.12) or
0.12m3 = 0.493242415m*0.493242415m*0.493242415m

0.493242415m = 49.3242415cm or 19.418992716535in or 1.6182493930445831509ft

TL;DR its about 1'7" * 1'7" * 1'7" imperial or 49cm*49cm*49cm in metric
Tagged: Nathanial Wells

Nathan Moore
June 27, 2020
9:56 p.m. PDT
With an educated guess on power consumption I would say that they will likely have a standard 28 VDC line making it 2.5 amp max at 28 VDC (conversion of power won't likely be an issue tbh)

28 VDC 2.5 Amperes (or 12 VDC 5.833 Amperes)

Nathanial Wells
June 28, 2020
5:11 a.m. PDT
@Nathan Moore
Heh, my maths isn't very good, we never covered things like root or powers back when I was in school, not really a surprise that half the year failed their tests because half of it was never taught in the classroom, just expected to know it I guess, I'm more into solving practical problems, can't be more practical than a toilet!
Tagged: Nathan Moore

Natalie York HeroX team
June 29, 2020
3:20 p.m. PDT
Hi everyone, the challenge guidelines have all of the critical design requirements for your solution. We are looking for innovative approaches and so some of the requirements will be up to you to determine.

If you have specific questions about the requirements you can post them here and I can work the NASA team to get you answers. I am working with them to provide you more information on why ISS toilets do not work on the moon.

Thank you for your patience and your participation!

Natalie York HeroX team
June 30, 2020
9:05 p.m. PDT
Hi everyone - back with an update from NASA regarding why the ISS toilets will not work for the Lunar Lander.

Currently, available toilets don’t meet the mass and volume targets that the Lander toilet has been allocated. It’s not so much as those toilets don’t work but that we wanted to look for innovative ideas beyond just putting current toilets on a weight watchers program.

Jonathan Brown
July 2, 2020
9:05 p.m. PDT
Very funny, but it makes sense that the smaller lander needs a smaller toilet and a smaller toilet that functions in both environments (lunar and micro-gravity) will free up space on the ISS and other manned space missions. Sure would like to get information on how to remove the water from the urine.

Renato Chalhub
July 2, 2020
11:18 p.m. PDT
Could the idea they seek be just a form or equipment to break down organic matter and urine?

Angela Emile Jose
July 3, 2020
2:22 a.m. PDT
how to submit the design
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