NASA Waste To Base Challenge Puts Up $24K In Prizes To Invent A Space Recycling System
NASA is specifically "looking for your ideas for how to convert different waste streams into useful materials that can then be made into needed things and cycled through multiple times—and we are looking for ideas to convert waste into propellant." It recognizes that a "completely efficient system" is improbable but want to jettison into space as little waste as possible. They are accepting submissions in four categories total—trash, fecal waste, foam packaging material, and carbon dioxide processing.
NASA is not seeking out brand new, fully-fleshed out systems. It expects that most submissions will "contain early stage ideas, or modifications of existing technologies." NASA also notes that winning proposals will contain ideas that can ideally be implemented within five years and minimize mass and volume.
According to the website, there are already 27 teams and 368 individual "innovators." This will likely be a fierce competition, but the website encourages collaboration. There is a forum page where people can ask questions about the competition itself, brainstorm ideas, and ask others for feedback.
The competition is open now and participants can submit their ideas until March 15th, 2022 at 5pm ET. The judging will take place between March 15th and April 19th and winners will be announced on April 26th. At least two and up to fourteen prizes will be awarded in each category, with twenty awards all together. There will additionally be four "best in class awards" which are aimed at recognizing "inventive and creative approaches that don’t necessarily fit into a specific waste category but nonetheless hold great potential for overall waste management." Each winning idea will receive $1,000 and participants can win multiple awards.
Images courtesy of NASA and HeroX.