This article originally appeared on businessinsider.com
Astronauts have a problem: a bathroom problem.
Bulky spacesuits force them to either hold their urine and feces, possibly for up to 12 hours, or use a diaper. Aside from fasting, there really is no other option.
But the future of going potty in space suddenly looks pretty practical thanks to the ingenuity of Dr. Thatcher Cardon, a 49-year-old family doctor, flight surgeon, and U.S. Air Force colonel who lives in Del Rio, Texas.
Space agencies are looking to send people to the moon, asteroids, and even Mars, so adventurous humans will need to use the restroom in space—which is why HeroX and NASA teamed up to launch the Space Poop Challenge.
On Wednesday, the contest's organizers announced that Cardon had won the $15,000 top prize for his prototype invention.
"You need to plan for emergencies. If a small meteor puts a hole in the Orion spacecraft, for example, astronauts might have to spend six days in their suits until they can get back to Earth or they can fix the hole," Cardon tells Business Insider. "There was no option inside of a spacesuit for feces, except for a diaper, until now."
Cardon shared photos and video with Business Insider of his incredible solution—called the MACES Perineal Access and Toileting System, or M-PATS—to this decades-old problem.
Here's how his invention works and why it just might revolutionize space travel.