In the second half of this decade, there will be numerous space launches by NASA,
A sustainable food system is important in supporting earth’s off-world exploration.
While early Moon missions will start by using prepackaged food systems like those used by the international space station today, increased mission time will involve reducing resupply dependency on the earth.
For this reason,
NASA is focusing its efforts on technology that will provide crew members with a long-term food supply.
The Deep Space Food Challenge is one of these initiatives.
a challenge to develop novel technology for feeding astronauts on long-duration space voyages
NASA announced the selection of eighteen Phase 1 winning teams to receive individual $25,000 grants on October 20, 2021,
and recognized ten international submissions at this year’s competition,
which was co-hosted by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA).
3D printed artificial soil and bipods for growing veggies and meat are just a few of the novel ideas.
NASA launched the competition in January 2021, in collaboration with the CSA.
the first Phase involved asking the innovators to design food production systems requiring minimal resources,
producing insignificant waste and optimizing safe,
nutritious and palatable food outputs for long-duration space missions that could prove advantageous to people back on Earth.
Specifically, the challenge needed the system to fill food gaps for a 3 year round trip mission for a four-man crew with no resupply.
multiple winning designs used materials such as bread and dehydrated powders
that could be processed into more complex food products.
At least eight projects leveraged additive manufacturing technologies in a wide range of food-related categories.
Mission: Space Food (California)
A group of experts in the fields of food, space, and technology are working on an integrative approach to human nutrition in space.
Using the engineering know-how of food tech Aleph farms (the startup made headlines after it was revealed that actor Leonardo Dicaprio was one of its backers), technology platform, and culinary innovation company Astrea,
The team created a closed-loop system to harvest and cook mouth-watering steaks for astronauts on space missions,
By employing bioreactors and cell cryopreservation to produce meat from pluripotent stem cells, this technology allows a crew to produce meat with almost 1000 times fewer inputs than traditional pasture-based cattle ranching.
, the system can be adapted to grow other such meat as lamb or pork.
increasing further the choice of food.
A spinoff company of NASA BeeHex is a designer and producer of 3D equipment, designed a Universal Food Fabricator (UFF).
A multifunctional system can dehydrate plants and cultured meats into powder form foods, keep them in hermetically sealed cartridges to increase shelf life for up to five years,
and fabricate food using stored food in the cartridge when needed.
the project emphasizes safe nutritious foods needing minimal inputs, equipping astronauts with an adaptive tool for their essential needs.
Since its creation back in 2017,
To automate tailored nutrition, BeeHex used 3D printing, artificial intelligence, robotics, and machine learning. Even creating a system that makes custom nutrition bars is on the horizon.
Space Lab Cafe (Colorado)
The Space Lab Cafe is a novel crop manufacturing system from Space Lab Technologies, is a compact vertical farm that repeatedly produces a wide array of nutritious produce with minimal waste, power or processing time.
The best part of it is that it can operate with or without gravity in a Martian, Lunar,
or spacecraft habitat while yielding farm to table solutions for harsh environments and earth’s urban centres.
Since Space Lab has evolved 3D printing capabilities for rapid prototyping, which reinforces numerous low and high-temperature filaments, resins for silicon oxide (SiO2) ceramics, aerospace-grade materials, and FDA-approved biocompatible materials,
the company will surely leverage the technology for the Deep Space Food Challenge as well.
KEETA ( Thailand)
A team of Thai aerospace engineers introduced a 3D printed food system that uses output sourced from an interdependent micro-ecosystem to produce an assortment of nutrient-rich food.
Electric Cow (Germany)
while relatively little is known about this team and project. what is known is that it will convert waste streams and carbon dioxide into food with the help of additive manufacturing and food-grade microorganisms.
Interstellar Labs (Carlifonia)
it is aimed at developing advanced environmentally controlled greenhouses called bio pods made to grow vegetables, plants
, fruits and flowers anywhere.
interstellar Lab is known to use 3D printing technologies to develop the membranes and material systems of its BioPods.
The company also hopes to 3D print its Mars simulators,
called Experimental Bioregenerative Station (EBios), designed as the first closed-loop, environment-controlled societies on Earth. With a dream team of 15 former SpaceX, Disney, Airbus, and Thales employees,
Interstellar Lab is anticipating scaling the production of BioPods through AM to meet the increasing demand for food on Earth and off-world.
Alsec Alimentos Secocs plans to introduce a food production system that combines four exponential technologies: Additive manufacturing, Artificial Intelligence,
microencapsulation and nanotechnology to formulate and develop organic, natural and very nutritious powdered foods.
Hailing from Cornell University’s College of Engineering.
The team aims to focus on the design of a symbiotic system of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), yeast, plants, mushrooms with a processing unit to yield fresh and nutritious produce that meets fifteen per cent of the standard caloric needs of astronauts.
The project required 3D printed artificial soil and symbiotic co-dependent to optimize each subsystem’s minimal external inputs and waste.
Source: NASA, Youtube