Nov 6, 2020

9-Year-Old Malaysian's Spacesuit Toilet Design Allows Astronauts To Pee In Peace


Pooping in space has never been a graceful act for astronauts.

In fact, it's kinda weird and a little scary for us regular earth-dwellers. If you don't know what a space toilet looks like, just watch this video.

But back in June, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced it had plans to send people back to the moon by 2024. And because astronauts are regular humans like you and, NASA needed to design a toilet solution perfect for the microgravity of space, as well as the moon.

Dubbed the Lunar Loo Challenge, the design competition was split into two categories, adults and children (junior).

After studying nearly 900 submissions in the Junior category, NASA has picked a winner – 9-year-old Malaysian, Zyson Kang.

IMAGE: New Straits Times

Kang's 'Spacesuit Lunar Toilet' is designed to fit inside an astronaut's spacesuit, as the name implies.

In the microgravity of space, the toilet device creates a vacuum to suck up any liquids (yes, pee and all) that the astronaut releases.

IMAGE: IDiscoveryWorld / Facebook

All the astronaut really needs to do is move their leg, which will then channel their urine into a container stored in their boots.

The best part of it all is the fact that the device doesn't need batteries or a supply of electricity to function, which makes for a perfectly lightweight and cheap way to answer nature's call in space.

According to the Kang's coach at the I-Discovery World science center in Selangor, Malaysia, the boy has always had a knack for inventing.

"He is an avid reader with an extremely curious mind. Science simply excites him, especially astronomy," says I-Discovery World's Chong Soo Sheong.

Chong and Kang started on the project in June, and submitted it to NASA's Lunar Loo panel of judges in August.

Kang (top right) presenting his model in a webinar with the NASA panel. IMAGE: IDiscoveryWorld / Facebook

"On October 29, NASA invited him to present his model at a webinar. The NASA team was impressed by the simplicity of his model," says Chong.

Kang managed to beat over 897 participants from 85 countries, solidifying the boy's place on the global young innovation stage.

IMAGE: IDiscoveryWorld / Facebook

Kang's spacesuit toilet could have other use-cases, especially for medical professionals in emergency situations.

I can't imagine how much it would suck to have to go to the bathroom while you're dealing with a medical emergency. How would doctors relieve themselves?

"For instance, medical personnel will normally have to remove or change out of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) if they have to go the toilet while handling COVID-19 patients," Chong explains.

"Zyson's compact toilet model will allow doctors and nurses to catch their toilet breaks during an emergency without having to change or remove their PPE gowns."

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