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Record-Breaking NASA Space Poop Challenge Announces Winners

BY MAUREEN MURTHA | 2 min read

The challenge began humbly enough. The NASA Space Poop Challenge sought the answer to a serious design question for future spacesuits: if they are to be truly habitable for long durations, as they would need to be in an emergency situation, how does the astronaut safely relieve him or herself?

With that, what might’ve once been executed through a sober set of RFPs, proposals, and white papers via private inboxes, was set loose as a truly wild idea on the internet. Enter the magic of crowdsourcing.

The Space Poop Challenge, within a matter of weeks after its launch, spread its meme-wings and soared across various news aggregators until it went undeniably “viral.”

The results?

  • More than 5,000 proposed solutions from 19,000 individual registered competitors were submitted.
  • Participation from more than 150 teams from every country and continent on Earth (including Antarctica!)
  • The challenge received unprecedented attention from top-tier media outlets, including NPR, The Washington Post, The Iran Daily, Weather.com, Popular Science, ABC News, NBC News, Space.com, and Time Magazine. The Space Poop Challenge also inspired a lengthy sketch comedy bit on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah.
  • An especially active online community viewed the challenge video over 100,000 times, generated nearly 400 conversations on the challenge forum, and shared the challenge more than 6,000 times on social media
  • In just one month, the challenge website had over 300,000 page views from 2,000 unique sources from around the world (the most challenge site traffic in HeroX history)

And in case you were wondering, we do have the long-awaited results.

The top award recipients are:

$15,000 Prize

$10,000 Prize

$5,000 Prize

While we were only able to award three prizes, there were many outstanding entries and NASA would also like to acknowledge the following semi-finalists (in no particular order):

The lesson here? Never doubt the power of our own fascination with extremes. It would seem that the NASA Space Poop Challenge spoke to both our most intimate knowledge of our own bodies and the incomprehensible mystery of...space. Needless to say, while it may have been a recipe for crowdsourcing history, the results will yield a critical ingredient to the future of spaceflight.

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SPACE TECHNOLOGY
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