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Informational Only

This challenge is no longer accepting new submissions.

Recycling in Space Challenge

Waste Handling in a Microgravity Environment

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Type of Challenge: Technology demonstration and hardware
Submission Start: 10/10/2018 12:00 PM ET
Submission End: 01/16/2019 05:00 PM ET

This challenge is externally hosted.

You can view the challenge details here:


An informational webinar for this challenge is scheduled for Nov. 5, 2018 (10 a.m. EST). Register now!

On Earth, recycling technologies can utilize gravity to move waste when converting it to new materials or constituent molecules. In a microgravity environment, however, technology is the only way to transfer the waste for processing. The aim of this Challenge is to identify receptacle and feeder mechanisms suitable for a microgravity environment that can deliver mission waste for decomposition.

NASA has developed a high temperature reactor that can recycle astronaut waste into valuable substances (water, gases & solids). During housekeeping duties, the astronaut will place mission waste into the receptacle in preparation for recycling. The feeder mechanism will take the waste from the receptacle and deliver it to the hot reactor for decomposition.

For a mission lasting one year, a team of four astronauts would generate approximately 2,500 kilograms of waste. Astronaut logistical waste can contain a variety of products, including:

  • Fabrics (from discarded clothing)
  • Foam
  • Food packaging
  • Human waste
  • Hygienic wipes
  • Low- & High-density plastics
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Paper

Given the volume and variety of waste products, it is crucial that NASA identify mechanisms to facilitate mission recycling.

For full contest details, please visit:


Cash Prize Amount: $15000
  • Total prize pool of US$15,000 available in the form of one US$10,000 first prize and two US$2,500 second prizes.
  • NASA will recognize prize winners through published announcements and individual profile stories.
  • Acceptance of a prize grants NASA with an unlimited license to use winning methodologies.
  • Successful entrants may also have the opportunity for future collaboration with NASA.


Official rules, challlenge statement, and guidelines for submissions are available here:

How To Enter

Official rules, challenge statement, and guidelines for submissions are available here: