Stories tagged moon mission

Jul
17
2008

Doing it right now: just not venting yet.
Doing it right now: just not venting yet.Courtesy NASA
Fine. Be a jerk about it—apparently there are only two reasons I could be an astronaut. There are definitely plenty of reasons why I should be an astronaut—including, but not limited to, 1) people love astronauts, 2) when aliens come, you’ll want someone on the front lines with gumption and verve, 3) I’ve seen Apollo 13, like, twice, etc—but nobody seems to care about those. No, it’s always “but what are your qualifications? Are you a pilot? An astronomer? How do you handle heavy g-force? Have you a buzz cut?”

Numerous and impressive. No. Not technically. Pretty well, I assume. Not at the moment, no.

But let’s look at the important things: primarily that I have a fully functional renal system, and can pee with the best of them. And that’s an important thing at NASA these days. Or so I hear.

An internal memo from NASA, calling for donations of urine, has been, um, leaked to the public. It seems that during the last ten days of July, NASA will be requiring about 8 gallons of fresh urine a day (the output of about 30 people) for super-secret, awesome space tests. That is to say, to help figure out how to build a better space bathroom.

It turns out that while peeing in space is probably a little tricky (and hilarious), storing and getting rid of that pee is at least equally problematic. The Orion space capsule, which will help ferry astronauts to the moon, will eventually have to vent stored astronaut pee into space. This, amazingly, isn’t as easy as spitting out a mouthful of lemonade—urine has lots of tiny solids suspended in it, and those solids clog up the venting system. And you don’t want clogged vents. Not here, and not in space.

To test the space urinal, NASA needs pee. And, as NASA’s head of life support systems says, you can’t make fake urine.

But I can make the real stuff. And I don’t want to brag, but it’s actually pretty easy for me.

Unfortunately, NASA only wants NASA pee (the original memo was internal, after all). But I’ll be waiting by the phone, ready to do my duty for America. In return, I only ask that a seat be saved for me on the lunar lander.

Sep
15
2007

Money for the moon: You can win up to $25 million if you're the first person in the next five years to successfully get a roving craft to the moon and send data back to Earth. Good luck! (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Money for the moon: You can win up to $25 million if you're the first person in the next five years to successfully get a roving craft to the moon and send data back to Earth. Good luck! (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Looking for a good science fair project and wanting to make a little cash on the side at the same time? Then check this out.

The X Prize Foundation in connection with Google has announced it will give $25 million to the first successful entity to land a rover on the moon and send back electronic data back to Earth.

The foundation is the same group that back in 2004 challenged private aerospace efforts to pilot a craft into the threshold of space.

So here’s exactly what you need to do to get $20 million:
• Get your rover to the moon.
• Have it travel at least 500 meters across the moon’s surface.
• Send back high-resolution video, photos or other data.

For an additional $5 million bonus prize, you need to:
• Have the rover cover 5,000 meters of moon surface
• Send back images of man-made artifacts on the moon, such as lunar craft from the Apollo missions.

The full values of the prizes will be available until Dec. 31, 2012, or when some group successfully completes the tasks. Then the reward drops to $15 million for the next couple years.

Full details on the contest are available at www.xprize.org.