Nine-year-old ‘eases himself’ into Nasa Hall of Fame
Malaysian designs ‘loo’ device enabling space travellers to relieve themselves without difficulty
HAKEM HASSAN /18 NOV 2020 / 12:10 H.
PETALING JAYA: Easing the way for the most basic bodily function is hardly a road to greatness.
But, as nine-year-old Zyson Kang Zy Shun (pix) has demonstrated, sometimes it takes a child to make it happen.
The pupil of SJK (C) Pin Hwa in Setia Alam, Klang, beat more than 900 other children from 85 countries to come up with a device that will enable astronauts to relieve themselves with ease while still in their spacesuits.
Zyson recently won first place in the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) Lunar Loo Challenge, and likely earned the gratitude of space travellers.
The challenge was for young inventors to create a compact toilet for astronauts who will be returning to the Moon under the Artemis programme in 2024.
The question of how astronauts relieve themselves has always been a mystery to people everywhere. In the first Apollo Moon mission in 1969, these space travellers had to ease themselves into a condom-like cuff that is then emptied into a bag.
But that device was by no means perfect. An official Nasa report on the Apollo missions recounted that bodily wastes frequently spilled out of the bag.
Zyson’s innovation is actually just an upgrade of the old spacesuit. A kind of “vacuum cleaner” is added to the suit to suck away the liquids.
According to Zyson, to enable unimpeded movement, the syringe pump is attached to the space boot and the vacuum is placed in a pocket of the spacesuit’s pants.
“All the user has to do is move his legs to trigger the vacuum function. The device does not require electricity. It is kinetic energy that drives it,” he told theSun.
Zyson’s interest in astronomy took root when he was only four years old, according to his science coach and mentor Chong Soo Sheong of the I Discovery World science centre in Setia Alam.
“Zyson came up with the idea and we worked on it for more than a month.
“We brainstormed on possible solutions, built a prototype and finally the product itself,” he said.
“Along the way, there were many trials and errors. Zyson had to work on his design endlessly to dissect the problems he faced and to come up with solutions,” Chong added.
He said neither of them expected to win.
“We just wanted to try our best. Zyson persevered despite the challenges.”
As it turns out, Zyson’s invention is not just for space travel.
Back on terra forma, it can be a great help for medical professionals who struggle to find time for bathroom breaks.
Doctors and nurses currently engaged in the Covid-19 war will certainly find it useful.
According to Chong, Zyson has always been a curious child and he has many different passions.
He also loves dinosaurs and is a huge fan of the Jurassic Park movies. He aspires to be a geneticist when he grows up.
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