New Space and Tech

NASA’s “Space Poop” HeroX Challenge Breaks Crowdsourcing Competition Records

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
February 15, 2017
Filed under ,
NASA’s “Space Poop” HeroX Challenge Breaks Crowdsourcing Competition Records
Space Poop

NASA Johnson Space Center, in partnership with NASA Tournament Lab and online crowdsourcing platform HeroX, today announced three winners of the widely publicized Space Poop Challenge.
he global crowdsourcing competition called for solutions to human waste management inside a spacesuit, while protecting the health and safety of its astronaut occupant for up to 6 days. Currently utilized solutions are designed for scenarios lasting less than 1 day.

During the 60-day competition, the Space Poop Challenge broke the following crowdsourcing competition records:

— More than 5,000 proposed solutions from 19,000 individual registered competitors were submitted

— More than 150 teams from every country and continent on Earth (including Antarctica) participated

— The challenge received unprecedented attention from top-tier media outlets, including NPR, The Washington Post, The Iran Daily,, Popular Science, ABC News, NBC News,, and Time Magazine. The Space Poop Challenge also inspired a lengthy sketch comedy bit on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah

— An especially active online community viewed the challenge video over 100,000 times, generated nearly 400 conversations on the challenge forum, and shared the challenge more than 6000 times on social media

— In just one month, the challenge website had over 300,000 page views from 2,000 unique sources from around the world (the most challenge site traffic in HeroX history)

“We are very excited to have had the opportunity to partner with NASA’s Johnson Space Center on this challenge,” said HeroX CEO, Christian Cotichini. “The opportunity to contribute to future NASA missions by helping to protect astronaut health and safety, combined with the curiosity that surrounds performing the most basic of human bodily functions in microgravity, seemed like a perfect HeroX crowdsourcing opportunity.”

“The response to the Space Poop Challenge exceeded all of our expectations,” said NASA Tournament Lab Deputy Director, Steve Rader. “The level of participation and interest went far beyond what we expected for such a short competition.”

“It was wonderful to see the global response from our crowdsourcing challenge,” said Kirstyn Johnson, Space Suit Technology Engineer at NASA. “We enjoyed seeing the innovative approaches that were sent in given such a demanding scenario. Others at NASA are now thinking about ways we can leverage a crowdsourcing approach to solve some more of our spaceflight challenges.”

Space Poop Challenge Prizes

The top award recipients are:

— $15,000 Prize

Winner: Thatcher Cardon

Solution: MACES Perineal Access & Toileting System (M-PATS)

— $10,000 Prize

Winners: Katherine Kin, Stacey Marie Louie, and Tony Gonzales

Solution: Space Poop Unification of Doctors (SPUDs) Team – Air-powered Spacesuit Waste Disposal System

— $5,000 Prize

Winner: Hugo Shelley

Solution: SWIMSuit – Zero Gravity Underwear for 6-Day Use

With such an exceptional response to the challenge, NASA is also highlighting an additional group of semifinalists who can be found on the Space Poop Challenge page.


The NASA Tournament Lab (NTL) is an online, virtual facility that facilitates the use of crowdsourcing to tackle NASA challenges. Since 2011, NASA’s researchers, scientists, and engineers have launched numerous challenges through NTL, often seeking novel ideas or solutions to accelerate research and development efforts, improve algorithm performance, and seek new ideas and approaches in support of the NASA mission. NTL offers a wide variety of open innovation platforms that engage the crowdsourcing community in challenges to create the most innovative, efficient and optimized solutions for specific, real-world challenges being faced by NASA and other Federal Agencies.


Founded in 2013, HeroX exists at the intersection of crowdsourcing, competition and collaboration. The HeroX crowdsourcing platform brings together global communities of problem solvers to deliver breakthrough solutions to social, economic, and strategic challenges.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.