Back in November, NASA issued a “space poop challenge” in order to solve one of space’s biggest problems:. Everyone has to poop, but NASA needed a good way to make it easier for astronauts to do No. 2 and not have to deal with floating turds.
That issue has now been solved, sort of.
The challenge lasted 60 days and consisted of over 19,000 thinkers and inventors with over 5,000 possible solutions submitted. Air Force Colonel Thatcher R. Cardon submitted the winning design. Cardon’s design effectively acts as an airlock for the butt that expels waste through a tube and out into space. Cardon was given $15,000 for his winning design.
The second-place design was created by a Texas group that calls themselves the Space Poop Unification of Doctors, or SPUDs. Their design took the waste and put it into a compartment attached to the suit. The third place winner, a British designer named Hugo Shelley, created a similar system called the “SWIMSuit — Zero Gravity Underwear.”
Despite these designs being declared “winners,” NASA isn’t necessarily going to implement them. Kirstyn Johnson, a NASA engineer focused on space suit design, said that the space agency will “be able to use aspects of the winning designs to develop future waste management systems for use in the suit.”