M'sian boy, 9, fine-tunes astronaut space suit toilet to win top NASA prize

So precocious.

Belmont Lay | November 06, 2020, 12:55 AM

A nine-year-old Malaysian boy has been awarded a prize by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for further fine-tuning a device that lets astronauts relieve themselves without taking off their spacesuit.

Zyson Kang Zy Shun revealed and explained the mechanics of his Spacesuit Lunar Toilet invention during a webinar hosted by NASA on Oct. 28.

His invention won first place in Nasa’s Lunar Loo Challenge (Junior Category).

The child prodigy beat nearly 900 submissions from 85 countries.

Kang tied for first place with another inventor, Joel John Arun, from the United Kingdom in the Under 11 category.

Young inventors had to share ideas for compact toilets that will help astronauts returning to the moon in 2024 under the Artemis programme.

The Standard Three student from Selangor aspires to be a geneticist when he grows up.

He is a die-hard fan of the Jurassic Park franchise and is particularly interested in paleogenetics, which is the idea that extinct species can be brought back to life.

How space suit toilet works

Kang explained that his invention is an upgraded version of the spacesuits used by astronauts on the Apollo moon mission in 1969.

Astronauts then urinated into a condom-like cuff that emptied into a bag.

An official Nasa report on the Apollo missions stated that “urine spills were frequent”.

The device the boy created has more practical uses, it turns out.

Kang’s design can be incorporated for use on Earth by medical professionals who may not be able to have bathroom breaks during emergencies.

The device fits snugly inside an astronaut’s suit by using a vacuum to siphon away any liquids.

It works around microgravity.

The wearer of the suit simply has to move their leg to trigger the vacuum function to drain any liquid into a waste disposal box inside the suit.

Kang explained: “It doesn’t require electric power to operate, it just needs kinetic mechanical power.”

A syringe pump is attached to the space boot and the vacuum container is attached to the pocket of the space pants.

“Since we’re now in a pandemic, doctors or nurses who need to pee or poop while they’re saving people can just go (to the toilet) like this,” said Kang.

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Top photo via Zyson Kang & Unsplash