One item that typically poses a nasty problem for a space flight is human waste. However, thanks to new human waste processing plant to be installed on the moon, that waste may be able to power the astronauts’ return flight back to Earth.
Poop is a real problem for space missions; the fecal matter must be stored in a way that it can sanitarily be disposed of during a space flight. This is typically done by loading all the human waste onto a special vehicle that is designed to burn up completely during re-entry in to the Earth’s atmosphere. However, instead of designing special rockets to burn the waste, human waste can be converted into methane, resulting in enough power for rockets to bring astronauts home from exploring the moon or even more distant targets.
A human waste processing plant on the moon would help with two issues associated with longer distance space travel, such as to Mars. According to Beta Wired, human waste poses a problem on long distance missions because there is simply more of it to handle.
“It is not practical to haul around months’ worth of astronaut poop just contributes needlessly to the weight of spacecraft.”
Second is carrying the fuel required for the rockets return back from space. If a human waste processing plant was placed on the moon, astronauts would be able to turn their waste into fuel for their return flight back to Earth. This is exactly what NASA hopes to see in place by 2024. According to a journal in the Advances In Space Research, the amount of gas that could be produced from a single crew member is quite impressive.
“The moon base would process the fecal matter into methane, a flammable gas that can be used to produce fuel for modern rockets. New techniques will see 290 liters of the gas per crew every day produced over the course of a week.”
The journal also notes that the use of human waste to generate heat and electricity for NASA rockets could be applied almost anywhere.
“It could be used on campus or around town, or anywhere, to convert waste into fuel.”
In fact, one bus company in Great Britain is already utilizing “poop power” to run its Bio Bus.
What do you think of the prospect of a human waste processing plant on the moon to help power astronauts return home flights?