Photo: JASON CONNOLLY / AFP / Getty Images
NASA selected 18 companies to develop space foods that astronauts could eat on long-term missions in deep space to Mars and other planets, such as 3D-printed steaks and ingredients that include protein from insects, fungi and algae.
The space agency believes its ongoing deep space food challenge is vital to keeping astronauts healthy and in good spirits during long isolation.
The United States space agency announced this week that more than a dozen organizations will receive $ 25,000 to continue working on space food solutions.
NASA has tried to focus on appetizing proposals for astronauts, but it also believes that innovation requires new approaches.
He said that about 10 NASA employees with experience in food production and space flight judged the contest, which had more than 100 participants.
The ideas did not need to be fully developed with the idea to promote spatial innovation.
The 3D-printed space steak, for example, is proposed by an alliance of California-based companies known as Mission: Space Food..
One such company is Aleph Farms, which successfully printed a facsimile of a rib eye steak in February.
Aleph has members of the advisory board including actor Leonardo DiCaprio and retired astronaut Karen Nyberg, winner of an Academy Award.
The judges saw nothing entirely new in the ideas for space food, Fritsche said.
NASA has grown leafy greens, radishes, and bell peppers in space, for example.
But some entries included mushrooms and algae along with traditional plant cultures.
The idea of mixing mushrooms, algae, and plants came from Cosmic Eats, a start-up in Cary, North Carolina.
One company, Beehex, of Columbus, Ohio, won with a simple proposal to dehydrate and hermetically seal food so it could rehydrate with flavor and nutrients intact for up to five years later.
The winners of this year’s competition will advance to increasingly narrow and difficult challenges.
Eventually, NASA will require kitchen demonstrations, taste tests, and possible in-orbit demonstrations.
San Francisco’s Astra Gastronomy plans to grow and dehydrate fast-growing microalgae to form crunchy snacks mixed with nuts and other ingredients.
Space Bread, of Hawthorne, Florida, which would develop a plastic bag to allow astronauts to store, combine and bake all of the bread ingredients for a leavened bun.
Deep Space Entomoculture introduced insect tissue cells to grow more tissue so that the final product contains insect cell proteins and fats.
The goal of the so-called entomoculture project is to create familiar meat analogs (hamburgers, ground meat) using (insect cells) that adapt more easily to growth in space than ordinary meat.
NASA plans a live broadcast on its YouTube channel on the food challenge and winning ideas with celebrities Martha Stewart and retired astronaut Scott Kelly on November 9 at 11 a.m. EST.