Food & Beverage

NASA Offers $1M Prize For Food Tech Innovators of the Future 

NASA is calling on the food tech world to help send astronauts further into the cosmos than ever before. With a prize purse of up to $1 million, NASA is launching the Deep Space Food Challenge to find the most innovative food tech solutions on the planet.

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

NASA, in coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, has launched The Deep Space Food Challenge to ask competitors to create a food tech system that could sustain a crew of four on a three-year deep space mission. Ready-to-eat foods, dehydrated powders, cultivated plants and fungi, as well as cellular agriculture meat have all been explored in Phase One of the competition, with Phase Two now open to new teams. 

NASA Deep Space Food Challenge

Though it is not only in space that NASA is looking for food solutions. The prize also hopes to unearth food tech solutions to address the significant issue of food security on Earth, a chronic problem in both urban and rural communities. NASA highlights the role such food tech could play in home and community-based local food production, as well in situations of floods, droughts, and other disasters. 

Cultivated meat or fungi 

Animal-free food solutions would of course be key to any successful multi-year space mission. Both precision fermentation fungi-based solutions – or mycoprotein – and cultivated meat are two fields at the forefront of alt protein food tech which could provide many answers to NASA questions. 

Space BioFarms - Aleph Farms space program Aleph Zero 2
Space BioFarms – Aleph Farms space program ©Aleph Farms

In 2021, the European Space Agency sought experts in cultivated meat for a similar project, while Aleph Farms carried out an experiment to grow beef on the International Space Station in 2019. 

“Feeding astronauts over long periods within the constraints of space travel will require innovative solutions,” stated Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “Pushing the boundaries of food technology will keep future explorers healthy and could even help feed people here at home.”

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