NASA Competition Wants Help Designing Recycling Systems For Mars Missions


Humans produce a lot of waste products, and any long-term mission in space or to another planet will need ways to deal with the waste. NASA has announced a new competition called Waste to Base Materials Challenge with total prize money of $24,000.

The purpose of the contest is to help NASA design and improve space missions with new proposals supporting efficient reprocessing, recycling, and repurposing of onboard resources. NASA says it knows that a completely efficient cycle is virtually impossible. Future space missions will have to jettison some waste into space to free up room inside the spacecraft.

However, it wants to dispose of as little waste as possible. NASA wants to convert the waste materials into other useful things such as propellant or feedstock for 3D printing. NASA is seeking ideas for waste management conversion in specific categories.

The categories include management and conversion for trash, fecal waste, foam packaging material, and carbon dioxide. Winning ideas will get a prize of $1000, with best-in-class ideas receiving another $1000. Anybody can participate, and rules for the challenge can be found here.