Feeds

NASA wants space washing machine for ISS, Mars bases

'Nauts stinky knickers cram station for months on end

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

NASA have moved at last to tackle the problem of dirty astronauts by commissioning a microwave with air-jets to clean underwear in space.

There are no washing machines on the International Space Station so grime-encrusted nauts will wear underwear for 3-4 days and other items of clothing for months, before disposing of the dirty laundry by hurling it into the atmosphere to burn up in old Progress cargo capsules, attempting to wash it in a plastic bag or even - yuck - using it to grow plants in.

The costs of sending anything into space - between $5,000 and $10,000 per 500g - limits the amount of clean knickers that can be sent up in the first place.

NASA have selected small disinfectant business UMPQUA to make a prototype of a low-water, low-power washing machine that could enable the laundry to be done 250 miles above the earth's surface - or much further afield, on deep space craft or in bases on the Moon or Mars. The new NASA research contract is to produce:

Flight Hardware for long duration human missions beyond low Earth orbit ... The system is suitable for use in any long term space mission where resupply logistics preclude routine delivery of fresh crew clothing and removal of disposable clothing articles. While the proposed laundry system is microgravity compatible, the system will be completely functional in reduced gravity environments.

The machine proposed by Oregon-based company would use jets of vapour, air and microwave rays to clean clothes. The proposal indicate that it achieves "greatly enhanced softness" over the traditional low-water vacuum pressing methods.

The laundry microwaves could be useful on Earth too the manufacturers suggest, saying they'd work well in isolated military outposts, research stations and on ships.

UMPQUA also have a second potential contract with NASA - for an efficient poo-burner or a Highly Efficient Fecal Waste Incinerator. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.