Remember engineer Howard Wolowitz? He is the fictional character from the hit TV series The Big Bang Theory who made the space toilet for the astronauts in the ISS. His character might be fictional, but the need for a space toilet is a real concern for astronauts in real life that is why NASA has launched its Lunar Loo Challenge back in June to find a new design of space toilets.
The space agency plans to send back people on the Moon by 2024, and a space toilet is an essential part of that mission. NASA has to design a toilet solution that is suitable for the microgravity of space and the Moon because astronauts are just regular humans who need to excrete their bodily wastes.
Last month, NASA just announced the winners of their challenge after receiving almost 900 submissions from individuals and teams around the world.
9-year-old Malaysian boy's Spacesuit Lunar Toilet
NASA has picked the 9-year-old Malaysian boy's idea of the Spacesuit Lunar Toilet. Zy Shun Kang has designed his technology to fit inside the spacesuit that creates a vacuum to suck up the liquid wastes, like pee, in the microgravity of space.
In the YouTube video of the third-year primary school student, he said that his winning work uses a syringe to evacuate the air inside the bottle to create a vacuum state. Then he extracts the waste without using electricity and engines.
Zy Shun wanted to make an improved version of the space toilet considering that the space toilets needed can only be used in microgravity since the Moon has only one-sixth of the Earth's gravity.
He was an avid fan of NASA and subscribed to its YouTube channel. He learned astronomy from reading books, magazines and from watching shows about the topic. He even learned more about astronomy than his parents, who introduced it to him.
On October 29, he was invited in a webinar by NASA officials, and they were impressed by the simplicity of the Spacesuit Lunar Toilet's design, I-Discovery World's Chong Soo Sheong said.
Kang and Chong submitted their entry to NASA in August and managed to beat nearly 900 applications from 85 countries solidifying the boy's place in the young innovators' stage.
Kang's Spacesuit toilet can be used in other fields as well
Although initially made for the use of astronauts in space, Zy Shun hopes that his spacesuit toilet can also be used in other fields, like in medicine, Mashable reported.
Imagine doctors having to go to the bathroom but need to attend to a medical emergency. Or the current situation in hospitals these wherein healthcare workers are covered in PPE, and it would be impractical to take off their PPE to heed the call of nature because then they would have to use another one.
The spacesuit toilet can be used by medical personnel as it will allow them to catch their toilet breaks even during an emergency without having to change or remove their PPE gowns.
In that way, there is no need to constantly change their protective clothing during emergencies. Also, the spacesuit toilet can be used to replace the discomfort from using adult diapers and reduce the burden on the healthcare workers.
Check out more news and information on the NASA in Science Times.