NASA, Canadian Space Agency off $1 million for system to feed tomorrow's astronauts

Posted at 5:59 AM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 05:59:31-05

TAMPA, Fla. — NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are calling on the public to help develop innovative and sustainable food production technologies and systems that can be used to feed tomorrow's astronauts.

"Over time, food loses its nutritional value. That means for a multi-year mission to Mars, bringing along pre-packaged food will not meet all the needs for maintaining astronaut health.," NASA said in a press release.

The competition, dubbed the Deep Space Food Challenge, could also have implications for everyone, not just astronauts.

"Food insecurity is a significant, chronic problem on Earth in both urban and rural communities. Disasters that disrupt supply chains further aggravate food shortages," a press release said. "Developing compact and innovative advanced food system solutions through initiatives such as the Deep Space Food Challenge could have applications in home and community-based local food production, providing new solutions for humanitarian responses to floods and droughts, and new technologies for rapid deployment following disasters."

The challenge asks competitors to create a food production technology, system, or approach that could potentially be integrated into a complete food system to sustain a crew of four on a three-year deep space mission.

Everything needed to store, prepare and deliver food to the crew, including production, processing, transport, consumption, and disposal of waste should be considered. Proposed technologies such as plant growth systems, manufactured food products, and ready-to-eat solutions combined could provide the future crews with a variety of options that would provide the needed daily nutrition.

This is the second phase of the Deep Space Food Challenge. NASA said new teams are welcome to join, with registration due by February 28.

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