Spacecraft engineering is about balance, compromises, and creativity. You’re designing a very small object to carry full-size human beings across profoundly dangerous environments full of radioactivity, electromagnetic forces, and who knows what else.
You have to make use of all the resources you have, and the Inspiration Mars mission will make use of everything. Including poop.
And why, precisely, would you fill the walls of your spacecraft with feces? To protect yourself from something much, much worse:
“It’s a little queasy sounding, but there’s no place for that material to go, and it makes great radiation shielding,” says Taber MacCallum, a member of the team funded by multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who announced the audacious plan earlier this week.
Yep, it turns out that filling the walls of your spacecraft with your turds is a good idea because it can protect you from cosmic rays. Basically, the launch would start with bags of food in the walls. As you convert the food to, well, you know, you put it back in the bag and stuff that bag in the walls.
Water is actually a far more effective radiation shield than metal, and objects with a lot of water won’t become radioactive from the exposure. As you might guess, your dumps are mostly water, and thus, will keep you from getting space cancer.
Inspiration is a privately funded mission and may never get off the ground, but, hey, if nothing else, at least we’re already getting some laughs out of it.