NASA is going back to the Moon, with the hopes of landing the first woman and the next man there by 2024.
The plan is ambitious, and to make it happen, the agency needs public help; it wants the global community to submit next-generation designs for "lunar loo" and is willing to pay Rs. 26 lakh for the best ones.
Along with working in both environments, the toilet also has to be smaller and more efficient than the current one.
Specifically, it must be 15kg or less on Earth, occupy a volume no greater than 0.12 meter cube, consume less than 70W power, operate with a noise level less than 60 decibels and accommodate both female and male users.
Hopes to capture new ideas around waste management
NASA hopes that this challenge will draw "radically new and different approaches to the problem of human waste capture and containment" in space.
"We may know how to make space toilets, [but] we recognize that there are a lot of innovations going in waste management from the no-flush toilet to waterless toilets and more," said Mike Interbartolo, the project manager of Lunar Loo Challenge.
Think about needs for the toilet, Interbartolo added
"Think about the needs for the toilet and don't worry about it being for a spacecraft. Break it down to the base functions needed in terms of handling male/female urine, fecal, menses, and how you could do it in a compact and low mass way."