NASA calls for innovative food companies to enter its Deep Space Food Challenge

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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A call for applications for Phase 2 of the NASA Deep Space Food Challenge, where competitors can compete for a share of nearly $1M, has been announced.

Created by NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), The Deep Space Food Challenge calls for a range of advanced foodtech groups to develop safe and sustainable methods for producing delicious and healthy foods to feed a team of four on a three-year mission in space.

NASA is offering the $1M prize to US-based competitors, while the CSA are hosting their own competition for Canadian groups, with a separate prize and adjudication process.

The second phase of the challenge will ask earlier winners as well as new teams to create real life models of their proposals, as well as food for judges to taste.

The first phase of the competition took place in October 2021, with NASA announcing 18 teams as winners of the shared $450,000 prize. Ten international teams were also recognised by NASA and the CSA as runner-ups.

One of these international teams included the Finnish foodtech start-up Solar Foods, who developed a specially designed piece of technology that was built to carry out a gas fermentation process to grow their unique protein Solein in space.

Other winning groups in the first phase of the challenge developed wide-ranging proposals, including new technology which allowed crew members to create cell-based plants and meats in space, as well as machinery which could produce edible bread on board.

Associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Jim Reuter, commented: “Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions,

“Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home.”

Competitors are encouraged to apply to take part in the Deep Space Challenge by February 28th.

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