Astronauts could soon achieve a new feat of space travel – doing their own laundry.
Consumer goods company Procter & Gamble said on Tuesday that it had teamed up with Nasa on a project to develop a detergent that can be used in space, in a project that could also identify ways to preserve water on missions to the moon, Mars, and even at home on Earth.
Washing clothes presents several challenges in space, including the safety of ingredients and the limited amount of water available. The crew of the International Space Station currently re-wear their clothes multiple times before switching them out for fresh ones delivered on resupply shipments. Nasa sends 160 pounds of clothing per crew member to the ISS per year.
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Tide, the world’s best-selling laundry detergent brand and a division of P&G, has developed a degradable detergent, specifically designed for use in space, which the company says is suitable for use in a close-loop water system, where all water must be purified back to drinking quality.
With Nasa now working with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to put more people on the moon, and the possibility of manned missions to Mars at some point in the future, more sustainable solutions are needed. A human roundtrip to Mars could be between two and three years in length.
The first test of the product will take place next year, onboard a cargo launch to the space station. Teams will evaluate the effects of micro-gravity and radiation on the ingredients in the detergent.
Researchers will also be looking at how explorers might be able to clean their clothes once on the moon or Mars, under low-gravity conditions.
Aga Orlik, senior vice president for P&G’s North American fabric care division, said the project could result in more innovative and efficient ways of cleaning that could be used on our home planet.
Ms Orlik, said: “Humanity has reached a pivotal point where on one hand, we’re on the exciting cusp of space colonisation, and on the other, facing a critical period where action must be taken now to save the planet we all call home.
“The collaboration with Nasa and the ISS National Lab are particularly exciting because it allows us to push the bounds of resource efficiency to its absolute limit, uncovering learnings with practical applications for both the future of laundry in space and here on Earth,” she added.
This Article firstly Publish on inews.co.uk