With Space Debris Used To Make Food Protein, What Will People Eat In Space?

Food in space has taken on a new significance.

by Tejashee Kashyap
With Space Debris Used To Make Food Protein, What Will People Eat In Space?

With the advent of space exploration and the increasing interest in colonising other planets, food in space has taken on a new significance. As humanity steps into the era of space tourism and long-duration space missions, the way we produce, prepare, and consume food must adapt to the unique challenges of space environments. Though the Moon might be humanity’s last frontier, what will we eat there when we get there?

Eating Space Food

Picture Credits: CollectSPACE

Space presents a myriad of challenges for food production and consumption. Microgravity affects the human body and complicates conventional cooking methods. Moreover, the limited space and resources aboard spacecraft necessitate innovative solutions to ensure a sustainable and nutritious food supply. At the moment, astronauts are fed prepared meals in the form of tiny food pouches. Food plays a crucial role in the mental health of astronauts, providing comfort and a sense of normalcy.

Specialised food manufacturing businesses prepare these meals. They are subsequently dehydrated, freeze-dried, or thermostabilized. In addition to bringing a special food that makes them miss home, astronauts can add water to their meals to heat or cool them before eating. Foods must have a long shelf life to last for the duration of missions, which could span months or even years.

Certain items should never be brought into space. Things like bread and other items that easily become airborne in a low-gravity environment pose a risk of inhalation or contaminating sensitive equipment. Because of the differences in how the body stores sodium in space, salt intake is restricted.

Also Read: Dubai Has A Space Burger Joint Offering A Cosmic Culinary Experience! Wanna Have A Bite?

Discovering New Ways To Eat?

Picture credit- Canva

Aiming to provide safe, wholesome, and delicious food that can last on a long-term deep space mission, NASA initiated the Deep Space Food Challenge in 2021. The challenge’s goal was to find innovative ways to produce food in space with limited resources and low waste. Helsinki-based Solar Foods is one of the eight businesses that have advanced to the challenge’s last stage. Their innovative idea is to make protein out of space debris.

The organization found an edible microorganism that thrives on a combination of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and oxygen. The outcome is a bacterial supply of protein. The protein can be combined with various flavours or textures to make a wide range of nutrient-dense foods, including pasta, protein bars, substitute meats, and even egg substitutes. Protein can be ground into a paste or powder and mixed with flour and other common food ingredients to make dishes like pasta, protein bars, and even chocolate.

The future of food in space is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field, driven by the need to support human life beyond Earth. What do you think?

Cover image credits: