With companies beginning campaigns to send vacationers to Mars, it’s time to start working out some of the logistics. One concern: How do you pack enough food to supply years-long space missions?
One company, Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC), believes the answer may be in 3-D food printing, and it has been selected to receive a $125,000 grant from NASA to construct a prototype.
“Long-distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life,” Anjan Contractor, engineer with SMRC, told the news website Quartz. “The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro- and micro-nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out and, in that form, it will last maybe 30 years.”
SMRC would not comment on the project directly to ABC News.
Allard Beutel of NASA told ABC News that the agency is in “contract negotiations” with SMRC.
“As NASA ventures further into space, whether redirecting an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we will need to make transformation improvements in our life support systems, including how we feed our astronauts during long, deep space missions,” said Beutel.
“[SMRC] has proposed a 3-D printed food system for long duration space missions,” Beutel added. “The proposal was selected for contract negotiation because of its merits in addressing NASA’s advanced food system technology needs as we prepare for long duration human space exploration. In-space and additive manufacturing offers the potential for game-changing weight savings and new mission opportunities, whether ‘printing’ food, tools or entire spacecraft.”