Food is a staple of life. I know I love to eat, and eat what I love. Through out the years, our heroes in space seem to be lacking in the luxury of good food. Have you tried space rations? Well okay, the Dried Ice Cream is pretty good. Living a stones throw from NASA’s space cost most of my life as afforded me the chance to visit a few times. One of our treats was the space food sold in the shops for the ride home. Tasty yes, but I felt there was always something missing.
NASA is planing on a trip to Mars, a few asteroid captures for mining, and maybe in the not so distant future, a trip to a neighboring galaxy or two. Dried Ice Cream and Astronaut Soup may get a little bland after a few weeks of reheating or chowing down. NASA is putting some of the worlds latest technology to a new purpose. They are working to make 3D Printed Food. Working with Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), NASA is trying to develop a 3D printed food system. It may be a few years out from making it into space, but this could mean big things for the future of space travel.
Currently, our astro-food will only last for around 5 years. This is important, because or neighboring system is around 2.5 million light years from our current position. While that is a trek that we may not make on current technology, harvesting asteroids, trips to mars or any other inter planetary travailing will most likely take more then a simple 5 years.
NASA’s first phase for production will determine what shelf stable foods will be good for space travel. They are looking for foods that will last and provide good nutrients to the space travelers. They then can use the components of these foods to prepare meals that will allow the astronauts to eat well with out taking up vital energy or space for food storage. “Tea, Earl Grey HOT” comes to mind.
NASA is not the only folks looking to make a 3D printable food. Quirky is trying to beet NASA at their own game. NASA wants to feed fearless space folk, but Kevin Davis feels that this could be better used here on earth. Kevin wants to make this technology available to countries around the world that need a better source of nutrition. Imagine taking the powered form of food, a lighter and less expensive packaging for travel, to an area where food is not readily available. All you would have to do is set up your printer and make entire villages happy. You could even use nutrients found in the local area to feed the hungry. As Kevin put it “A pizza made of powders consisting of algae and insects may not sound appetizing, but it could help combat world hunger and dramatically curb food waste.”‘
Check out more on Kevin’s Idea and vote to keep the Idea alive. NASA has been world renown for finding innovations by the way of space travel that has changed the world. They may have stumbled upon another.