WASHINGTON D.C., 27 May, 2015 — Testing is underway on hemp toilet paper specially developed for NASA’s first manned mission to Mars within the next decade.
In an exclusive interview with Potcha, Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, said, “While our robotic scientific explorers are crucial to NASA’s journey, the Mars program is about paving the way for human astronauts who will have to operate in and survive deep space travel. Their personal comfort is a priority.”
Intimate hygiene is both a morale and a health issue according to members of the mission’s international science team.
A spokesperson for the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, France’s space agency, said in an e-mail statement, “It is inconceivable to subject heroic human beings to corrosive bathroom tissues on an expedition of this scale. No astronaut should have to deal with the indignity and discomfort of hemorrhoids in addition to all the usual stresses.”
“The challenge is one of comfort versus tensity and economy,” said Hans Zartpo of the German Aerospace Center, who has been tasked with special oversight of the toilet paper project. “It appears that hemp could offer more bang for the butt,” Zartpo joked. Hemp fiber is strong, more plaint, and longer lasting than cotton, linen or other fibers being tested. “If we are capable of landing a vehicle on the Red Planet, we are capable of creating strong recyclable paper that does not cause scraping and itching,” Zartpo said.
Teams from across the globe have worked long hours to fabricate acceptable samples for the tests and there remains work to do before NASA has a toilet paper ready for tender parts. “But it is fantastic to get to this critical milestone,” Green said of the decision to trial hemp. “Together, humans and robotics will pioneer Mars and the solar system,” he added, and could one day introduce other civilizations to the comfort and convenience of “Hempoo” – the name affectionately coined for the trial paper.