NASA’s $1 million question: How will astronauts feed in space?
“Pushing the boundaries of food technology will serve to protect the health of the explorers of the future”
The American Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is offering a total reward of $1 million to those who figure out how astronauts can feed in space.
Nutrition is one of the most basic needs of astronauts operating farther from Earth in the sky. Various experiments are being carried out to meet this. For example, peppers are grown on the International Space Station.
NASA is also holding a competition with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to develop technology to produce nutritious, tasty and hearty food on long-term missions to explorers.
The three-stage Deep Space Food Challenge asks participants to develop a complete technology for a crew of four embarking on a three-year deep space mission. Every point needs to be considered, from production, processing, transportation, consumption and waste disposal.
Contestants need to prepare the technology with minimal resources and waste.
Although people from all over the world can attend the event, NASA only awards the prize money to US citizens. The CSA also has its own selection and reward system for Canadian competitors.
The first stage of the competition was completed in October 2021. A NASA jury awarded a total of $450,000 to 18 US teams who met expectations. The proposed technologies included projects such as the production of ready-made foods such as bread, powders that could be converted into food, and cultured mushrooms that crews could grow or produce.
The 10 international teams that won won the accolad. The Methuselah Foundation, which supports the competition, gave $25,000 to two of the international teams. The CSA donated 30,000 Canadian dollars to 10 teams.
In the second phase of the competition, it is desirable to create prototypes of the technologies and to produce food.
The winners of the first stage were invited to the second. NASA also announced that they are expecting new participants from both the United States and the international arena in the second phase. The space agency also announced it would distribute a $1 million reward to US winners. Participation in the second phase can be made by February 28th.
“Feeding astronauts for a long time requires innovative solutions, as space travel imposes some restrictions,” said Jim Reuter, director of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate.
Pushing the boundaries of food technology will serve to protect the health of the explorers of the future.