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NASA's Offering $30,000 to Anyone Who Can Help Astronauts Poop Better

Published On 11/28/2016 Published On 11/28/2016
Space Poop Challenge
Getty Images

Everyone poops -- including astronauts. But at present, the sub-orbital port-o-potties are also sub-optimal -- and that's why NASA wants to pay you $30,000 to fix its poopy problem.

As outlined on the government agency's website, the Space Poop Challenge "seeks proposed solutions for fecal, urine, and menstrual management systems to be used in the crew’s launch and entry suits over a continuous duration of up to 144 hours," which is a long way to say: NASA needs you to help people make doodoo in space.

And don’t forget, you can’t always count on poop being solid, especially if you are up in space

Further details on the competition website reveal that astronauts might wear their pressure-sealed suits for up to 10 hours at a time, or for six days in a cataclysmic event. Right now, their only solution is wearing adult diapers. And while a convenient place to take a dump, a diaper proves a "temporary solution, and doesn’t provide a healthy/protective option longer than one day." Ask any baby -- actually, don't do that. Babies can't talk, so you won't get a response.

In case you were wondering what excretion of all sorts is like in space, definitely for shits and probably for giggles, here's a blurb that explains the problem:

"Well, in space there is no gravity to direct your urine away from your body when you release it.  Same for poop. There is no gravity to pull it away when you release it. Menstrual fluid? At least some of it will exit a woman’s body. You don’t want that traveling around your suit.And don’t forget, you can’t always count on poop being solid, especially if you are up in space and nervous about the fact that your vehicle cabin has depressurized."

Yikes.

Nevertheless, NASA's ponying up a full $30,000 for your toilet thoughts, and you've got until Dec. 20, 2016 to help astronauts boldly go dookie where no one has gone dookie before: into a fancy space john that you invented.

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Ryan Craggs is Thrillist's Senior News Editor. His parents have a framed painting of an astronaut peeing on the moon in their guest bathroom. Follow him @ryanrcraggs.

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