back to article Tito's Mars mission to use HUMAN WASTE as radiation shield

The team behind a planned private manned mission to Mars say they've come up with a way to protect voyagers from radiation exposure during the long trip: pack the walls of the spacecraft with a layer of the astronauts' own waste. "It's a little queasy sounding, but there's no place for that material to go, and it makes great …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pie in the Sky

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Poo in the Sky


      1. Harvey Trowell

        Re: Poo in the Sky

        That name is the PitS. I think they should name her the Starshit Enterprise (or maybe the Scatellite of Love).

        If for some reason they miss Mars and head out into deep space, they could rename her Sewager. That would be awful though. They'd be Colost' in Space.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Poo in the Sky

          No No, please stay, spin out some shitticisms.....

        2. Simon Harris

          @ Starshit Enterprise

          They'll have instructions to boldly 'go' where no man has been before!

        3. Psyx

          Re: Poo in the Sky

          Let me get this straight: People will be travelling to Mars in - literally - a bag of shit?

          We've come so far!

          1. Great Bu

            Solar Flare !

            "Captain ! NASA reports a large solar flare heading our way."

            "Quickly, break out the bran flakes, we need to shore up the shielding..."

      2. Mikel


        Some few molecules of the 36,500 gallons of water you consume each year has been in the urine of a mongol lord, a prostitute's abortion, and even Hitler's shit. Every glass of water contains molecules of H2O that were once in the bladder of a leper. The sort of folk who travel in space are both more aware of this issue than most and less concerned about it.

        1. Seajay

          Re: Pragmatic

          Fairly sure I don't drink 100 gallons of water a day...

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Pragmatic

            You don't bathe, either? Nor wash your clothes?

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Wize

          Re: Pragmatic @ Mikel

          Sounds like homoeopathy. Does the water remember being in Hitler?

        3. The last doughnut
          Thumb Up

          Re: Pragmatic

          Whoa. This is an excellent factiod to throw at pro-homeopathists

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Smearing your shit inside the walls......

      As a way of retaining your mental faculties, instead of demonstrating a loss of them.


      Satan: "Art work of the Demonically Possessed? Here let me stick my fingers in your paint pot."

  2. multipharious

    One way trip

    While everyone froths themselves up regarding a visit to Mars, I for one want nothing back in this Earth ecosystem. You go to Mars? Stay there...become a Martian. Do not bring back some random virus or bacteria that our probes cannot detect. We are happy to send care packages!

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: One way trip

      Earth, with its ever higher population, population density, communication between populations and human encroachment on potential 'reservoir' species is an ideal place for viruses and bacteria to evolve and spread... Mars not so much.

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: One way trip

        There's no chance of a martian superbug (though it's plausible that some earth-sourced extremophile might be at home there). A one-way manned landing is still a good idea, though. The astronauts would spend the rest of their (probably short) lives there, but they could get a lot of science done. Far more than any robotic probe we can make right now, and it's a good first step towards a sustainable colony too. The only problem is that the public would be appalled at the idea, for some strange moral reason. Eventually China will do it.

        1. Sir Runcible Spoon

          Re: One way trip

          did you read the bit about them slingshotting round Mars..and not landing there?


          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Black Helicopters

            Re: One way trip

            But what if the superbug has developed ways and means to catapult itself from the surface then latch onto flybying spacecraft?

            We might be doomed regardless!

          2. Suricou Raven

            Re: One way trip

            I never said I was refering to this mission. I was just throwing out ideas for hypothetical future missions.

    2. Don Jefe

      Re: One way trip @multipharious

      Pansy. It is that kind if thinking and fear mongering that holds all of humanity back.

      If anything humans would be contaminating Mars.

    3. Mikel

      Re: One way trip

      Scraps from Mars fall to Earth all the time. If there's a plague there, we've got it already.

    4. Psyx

      Re: One way trip

      "Do not bring back some random virus or bacteria that our probes cannot detect. We are happy to send care packages!"

      Congratulations on being the most stupid thing I've read today.

      How will these bacteria (so far undiscovered by us on several missions there) fly several thousand miles into space, penetrate the vessel's hull and adapt to a totally alien host, who might have totally differing biology.

      In your own time...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nooooooooooooo way

    Couldn't think of anything worse, cooped up in a sh*t lined tin can for 18 months with the wife.

    I'd be suicidal after three days!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nooooooooooooo way

      Worse? Take the mother-in-law as well as the wife.

      1. Esskay

        Re: Nooooooooooooo way

        At least putting the toilet seat down becomes less of an issue when you're surrounded by your own shit.

  4. rcorrect


    Alright the Tito Mars mission is beginning to sound like some kind of weird (even by anime standards) anime porno featuring slothstronauts.

  5. MrT

    Solar flare reported...

    ...break out the emergency supplies of All-Bran, prunes and Ex-Lax.

    1. Simon Harris

      Re: Solar flare reported...

      A solar flare report might be enough of a 'brown trousers' event that the emergency supplies may not be necessary!

  6. Dragon Leaves

    We come in peace, and we're wrapped in dung and piss.

    To meet E.T. would be the highlight of our history and the pinnacle of our embarrassment.

    1. Grave

      Re: We come in peace, and we're wrapped in dung and piss.

      "we come in feace" :)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're coming outta the goddamn walls!

    Still, preferable to Aliens.

  8. southpacificpom

    I can see this being one big shit of a journey...

  9. GBL Initialiser

    It's one small step for man; one giant dump for mankind.

  10. Rol

    I see a flaw

    If the food and water is to be used as a radiation shield, then surely, consuming them would negate the whole purpose as 1 year old water and food would contain a years worth of accumulated radiation?

    Unless of course, the radiations half-life is relatively short. More data required...........

    1. James Loughner

      Re: I see a flaw

      I recommend further education. You don't seem to grasp what radiation is.

  11. Allan George Dyer

    Sounds like the plot of many monster movies...

    Take a rich biological environment, subject it to unusually high levels of radiation for an extended time.

    Enter the naive honeymoon couple.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Elmer Phud

      Re: Sounds like the plot of many monster movies...

      Won't somebody think of the bacteria?

      Exposed to radiation it evolves in to a mobile slime entity that takes over the computers and . . .

      Another bloody Bruce Willis film on the way.

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Teenage mutant Ninja turds

    It's been done.

    IIRC the Skylab 'naught dried their feces by vacuum exposure for packing in the LOX tank of the re-purposed launch vehicle they were living in.

    People have done some work on urine but it seems feces are the #1 unsolved problem in closed cycled life support.

    Potentially they offer a rich range of starting options for combining with all that CO2 you have left over. Note in space ultra high vacuum is cheap. We're talking pressures in micro Torr (millionths of a millimetre of Hg). Evacuate a chamber, connect your tank of chopped up feces to it and the water should come off readily. A little gentle centrifuging will get the water to collect.

    1. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

      Re: Teenage mutant Ninja turds

      I started off fine, now I'm feeling a little queasy....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Teenage mutant Ninja turds

      fertiliser? it make sense to use hydroponics to generate the O2, so why not use feces as a fertiliser (after sterilisation of course.

  13. Zmodem

    stick to aerogel and dump crap out an airlock,

    1. Michael Habel

      Yeah like those pesky freeloading Hitchhikers you just picked up after having demolished their Home World to make way for the new Hyper Space Express Route though the Galaxy.

      1. Mr Young


        They Hitchhikers got space shit on them!

    2. hplasm


      does crap even stick to aerogel?

      1. Zmodem

        Re: But-

        aerogel insulates radiation and is alot lighter then turds

        the universe isnt a science lab owned by man, contamination means, its all going to happen sometime or another

    3. The Indomitable Gall

      Yes but...

      The aerogel would be in addition to all the original mass for the food. The goal of storing cr@p is to refill the gaps left by taking the food out.

      On a side point, can anyone explain to me how aerogels manage to work as radiation shielding? I just can't get my head round how an ultra-low density solid could possibly stop anything.... But then again, I'm just a Computer Science grad....

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Yes but...

        Anyone have a citation for aerogels insulating against ionizing radiation? The sources I consulted all mention the insulating properties of various aerogels for thermal radiation, which is a rather different problem. (And they mention the use of aerogels in Cherenkov radiators, which is also irrelevant to this application, as far as I can see, though you'd have a nice indication of how much ionizing radiation was hitting your shielding.)

        Incidentally - the article mentioned something about NASA working on extracting drinking water from urine. That's old hat, surely, and I've read more than one article on NASA tech for extracting water from solid wastes, so that's not new either. (And indeed it's rather obvious.)

  14. Anthony Hulse

    Great idea

    When one of them inevitably flips out and kills the other they can also use this method to store all the dismembered body parts.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Great idea

      That sounds like the movie "Dead Calm - IN SPAAAACCEEE!"

    2. Simon Harris

      Re: Great idea

      I shall have to find my copy of John Wyndham's 'The Seeds of Time' and re-read 'Survival'

  15. picturethis
    Paris Hilton

    And when a micrometeor penetrates the cabin..

    Sniff, sniff,

    I think I smell something... I was brought in when our feces shield was penetrated by a micro-meterorite. Should be easy to spot in additional to smell: look for brown/yellow streak in air.

    Paris - because, well, sniff, sniff...

  16. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

    A whole new meaning.....

    brings a whole new meaning to......

    Klingons on the starboard bow........

    (Can't believe no-one got there before me)

    << Good curry icon.

    1. Supplicant

      Re: A whole new meaning.....

      We're saving those jokes for the mission to Uranus.

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: A whole new meaning.....

      " A whole new meaning.....

      brings a whole new meaning to......

      Klingons on the starboard bow........

      (Can't believe no-one got there before me)"

      I was expecting a raft of replies along the lines of "Surely you mean the #2 problem in closed cycle life support."

      People just don't appreciate good comic opportunities.


  17. Jan 0 Silver badge

    What would scare me

    is if there was a crash landing on return.

    I'd like to jettison all the bags just before reentry.

  18. Horridbloke

    Quality entertainment

    That's the next Jackass film sorted then.

  19. IT Hack

    Divorce Court In Spaaaaaaace!

  20. JDX Gold badge

    17 months, no way to expel waste

    That's a LOT of poo. If we say one movement each per day we're looking at 1 kiloturd.

    Maybe that - kiloturd - should be the new unit of space travel, combining time spent and number of people travelling?

    Either way it's a good idea but you have to worry the landing back on Earth is going to be more risky with all those bags liable to burst.

    1. Silverburn

      Re: 17 months, no way to expel waste

      That might explain the sheer size of it, going by the pic. Just how many square meals a day are they planning to eat up there???

      There's also the small problem that it will be almost empty when it leaves earths "shield".

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Captain's Log

    Amazed nobody has said it already.

  22. dssf

    Captain's Log...

    Supplemental.... For further reports...

    And Supplimental, if they eat it...

    So, the longer they eat their logs, the more logarithmic and log-a-rhyth-mic things will become.

    (IF they eat it...)

  23. dssf

    Feeding, Disposal, and Shielding

    I admit these ideas are likely not new, but here we go:

    Feeding: pre-deploy stores and supply modules with, say, an SPS (Spatial Positioning System) so the modules are on their predicted flight plan. Design them with "spacedar" so that when the ship is about a million miles away, mutual intercept, mating, and transfer occurs. The emptied module can be designed to be a rescue shelter in the event something goes wrong on the way. Then, rescue and recovery would be much shorter than going ALL the way to Mars.

    Disposal: Can not a special autoclave be designed with an input/output to direct the waste to the fuel exhaust? Of course, if that is designed in, it negates the opportunity to capitalize on using waste as a shield on the way over. But, it could be used to burn up the solids on the way back. Also, burning a little or dumping a little here and there might make for an interesting "cookie/bread crumbs trail" in the event comms are lost and someone thinks it's possible to pick up the scent of their nascent iron (not ion) trail....

    Shielding: Similar to Feeding. Can not a hull liner be parked in orbit a year before the launch? It could be designed to be mated witth the space ship, like a docking collar, except the ship "en-sheathes" (well, you know, like... Putting on a, well, you know...) itself. Of course, a lot of momentum would be lost if the ship launch was more from orbit rather than from Terrra Firma.

    If enough inertia can be otained from pre-Earth departure, then the vessel could make up for the time lost ensheathing the hull. The liner would only need to shiled the hab sections, meaning the ship could be designed with engines that attach after the hab hull is parked awaiting the engines and sensors body parts.

    I'm not any engineer, but I would think that if the hull is going up in modules, then shields could be modules, too, just wrapped around or slipped on around the hull. They could contain the insulation or shielding that may be more efficient to sent up to pre-assembly orbit. Room could be left to capture waste for recycling, and the shield itself could be jettisoned on Mars approach, or after some period of time after fly-by. During that possible 7 or 8 months on the return, another speed-matching supply module could be pre-positioned.

    Ultimately, the size and weighth of the vessel could be reduced and lightened -- well, assuming non-compressable labs will be inside the modules.

    For fun/recreation, in the event some electronics are damaged by space radiation, they people should have some games to play: cards, dice, Toss Across, Connect Four, Battleship, Etch-a-Sketch, Slinky, knitting, and other things that can be fun to play in low or zero gravity.

    Married Couple: Why married? Compatible unmarried couples of either genger could go up. In any case, if safe sex is expected, then other "consummables" will have to be packed, unpacked, used, then discarded -- discarded to SOMEwhere. If the need for a married couple is very important, it must be that there is an agenda to intentionally time and cause during-deep-space-impregnation of the present female. Is the Vatican funding part of this mission? If no woman goes, I guess it would be Mrs/Miss-Shun-to-Mars. Or, is it that policy makers do not want to have students learn about deep space "ass-sto-naught-tics" of some sort, which either gender could engage in.

    Anyway, if there is a real 2018 launch, the ship needs to be designed by 2014, I'd guess, and construction finished by 2017, which might leave 12-to-2 months of pre-departure bug hunting and systems checks. 5 years is a VERY litttle amount of time.

  24. Cipher

    And if the waste bag is punctured, leaks into the ventilation system, would this be a case of the S*** hitting the fan?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No-one has thought to mention Donovan :

    ... Oh, the intergalactic laxative will get you from here to Mars.

  26. Adam 1

    What a crappy idea

    sorry, I'll get my coat.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought

    Use um, "used" condoms to store solid waste, then attach to outside of craft and allow to freeze.


    Probably a stupid question, but wouldn't water added to said waste be a good idea to increase its cross sectional area?

    maybe add boric acid to water as well to make it more effective as a moderator.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Just a thought

      While water would certainly be helpful in shielding, it may be more helpful inside the astronauts. This is a mass-constrained design: Getting anything out of the earth's well costs a lot of money. That's the appeal of using feces as shielding: It's already available during the mission, unavoidably, so by putting it to some practical use you can reduce the amount of shielding you need to launch. Same for the idea of using a final booster stage for directional shielding: It's effectively free mass, once it's done it's main job.

  28. Nick Gibbins

    Nothing new about this

    The idea of using both food and excreta as radiation shielding for long duration space flights is nothing new; the Boeing Integrated Manned Interplantery Spacecraft proposal from 1968 made exactly the same recommendation.

  29. Tom 7

    I dont know about the chinese getting there first

    It sounds like an ill handled match in the bogs at Glastonbury might just complete the parts list for the journey.

  30. Zmodem

    use the same airlock system on the toilets deepsea divers use on their pressure cabin they live in when a job takes more then a day

    1. Simon Harris

      @ ZModem

      when a job takes more then a day

      Now, that's a bad case of constipation!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Picard to Number 1 ....

    ... go take a number 2.

  32. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    We come in piss


    There's Klingons on the starboard bow

  33. TeeCee Gold badge

    Eh? What?

    Tito said that he would like his astronauts to be a couple, preferably married, to help offset some of the psychological difficulties.

    I'm sorry, but if your aim is to select a pair that are happy to spend 17 months shagging their way to Mars and back in a huge ball of shit, psychological difficulties come with the territory.

  34. sandman

    Nicely summed up here.

  35. 1Rafayal

    I want a space ship covered in poo

    see title

  36. Death Boffin

    And just what happens....

    ...when a micrometeor pierces the hull? Brings new meaning to the term "meteor storm".

  37. The Indomitable Gall

    Nice font...

    Just noticed the font on the spaceship mockup. How original!

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