Variety, nutrition, and taste are some considerations when developing food for astronauts. For NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, students, chefs, small businesses, and others whipped up novel food technology designs to bring new solutions to the table.
NASA has selected 18 US teams to receive a total of $450,000 for ideas that could feed astronauts on future missions. Each team will receive $25,000. Additionally, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) jointly recognized 10 international submissions.
NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will air a show on the Deep Space Food Challenge on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, 11am (EST), with details about the competition, winning solutions, and what could be next for the teams.
Special guests during the show will include celebrity chef Martha Stewart and retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will announce the winners of two awards honoring international teams that demonstrated exceptional innovation. Other participants will include retired CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford.
“NASA is excited to engage the public in developing technologies that could fuel our deep space explorers,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Our approach to deep space human exploration is strengthened by new technological advances and diverse community input. This challenge helps us push the boundaries of exploration capabilities in ways we may not recognize on our own.”
NASA, in coordination with CSA, opened the Deep Space Food Challenge in January. The competition asked innovators to design food production technologies or systems that met specific requirements: They would need to use minimal resources and produce minimal waste. The meals they produced would have to be safe, nutritious, and delicious for long-duration human exploration missions.
For the US teams, NASA’s judges grouped submissions based on the food they envisioned producing. Among the designs were systems that used ingredients to create ready-to-eat foods such as bread, as well as dehydrated powders that could be processed into more complex food products. Others involved cultivated plants and fungi or engineered or cultured food such as cultured meat cells.
Details about the winning submissions and teams can be found on the challenge website www.deepspacefoodchallenge.org.
“These types of food systems could offer benefits on our home planet,” said Robyn Gatens, director of the International Space Station Program at NASA and challenge judge. “Solutions from this challenge could enable new avenues for worldwide food production in resource-scarce regions and locations where disasters disrupt critical infrastructure.”
The winning US teams, in alphabetical order, are:
- Astra Gastronomy of San Francisco, California
- BeeHex of Columbus, Ohio
- BigRedBites of Ithaca, New York
- Biostromathic of Austin, Texas
- Cosmic Eats of Cary, North Carolina
- Deep Space Entomoculture of Somerville, Massachusetts
- Far Out Foods of St. Paul, Minnesota
- Hefvin of Bethesda, Maryland
- Interstellar Lab of Los Angeles
- Kemel Deltech USA of Cape Canaveral, Florida
- Mission: Space Food of Mountain View, California
- Nolux of Riverside, California
- Project MIDGE of La Crescenta-Montrose, California
- RADICLE-X of Brooklyn, New York
- SIRONA NOMs of Golden, Colorado
- Space Bread of Hawthorne, Florida
- Space Lab Café of Boulder, Colorado
- µBites of Carbondale, Illinois
CSA ran a parallel competition with a separate application, judging process, and prize for participating Canadian teams. The agency will announce its winners at a later date.
Teams from outside the United States and Canada qualified for recognition but were not eligible for monetary prizes. The 10 international submissions NASA and CSA recognized are:
- ALSEC Alimentos Secos SAS of Antioquia, Colombia
- Ambar of Bucaramanga, Colombia
- Electric Cow of Germany
- Enigma of the Cosmos of Écully, France and Brunswick, Australia
- JPWORKS SRL of Milan, Italy
- KEETA of Bangkok, Thailand
- LTCOP of Piracicaba, Brazil
- Natufia X Edama of Thuwal, Saudi Arabia
- Solar Foods of Lappeenranta, Finland
- π of Ghaziabad, India
The Deep Space Food Challenge is a NASA Centennial Challenge. Centennial Challenges are part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters in Washington and are managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Subject matter experts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida support the competition. NASA, in partnership with the Methuselah Foundation, manages the US and international Deep Space Food Challenge competition.
For more information about NASA’s prizes and challenges, visit www.nasa.gov/solve.
Source: NASA HQ and Marshall Space Flight Center