Are you up for NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge?

Agri-tech innovation pioneers are being invited to enter a competition to find innovative ideas that will help astronauts produce food while in space.

The NASA competition, run in partnership with the Canadian Space Agency is open to non-US and Canadian teams, although the prize will be recognition, rather than the cash prize that is on offer to US/Canadian teams.

The Deep Space Food Challenge is an international competition where teams are invited to create novel and game-changing food technologies or systems that require minimal inputs while producing high-yielding safe, nutritious, and palatable food for long-duration space missions, and which also have the potential to benefit people on Earth.

Although many food systems that may offer benefits in space already exist, their ability to meet the demands of extended spaceflight has not been established. NASA’s lunar missions are constantly evolving in line with with technological advances, but one of the key challenges that needs to be addressed for long-duration lunar missions is how to provide astronauts with safe, nutritious food while in orbit or on the lunar surface.

Coming back down to earth, food insecurity is increasingly common, especially in urban, remote rural communities and harsh environments. Natural disasters and other threats, such as the current Coronavirus pandemic, can also disrupt supply chains, causing or aggravating food shortages.

For this reason, any developments that maximise the efficient use of water and other inputs for food production will not only help NASA but will also have potential to increase yields while reducing the impact on our increasingly threatened resources, especially in extreme environments and resource-scarce regions.

NASA wants to provide nutritious, tasty and enjoyable food for future space explorers and to that end the Deep Space Food Challenge is hoping to find food production technologies that can:

  • Help fill food gaps for a three-year round-trip mission with no resupply
  • Feed a crew of four (4) astronauts
  • Improve the accessibility of food on Earth, in particular, via production methods suitable for use in large cities and remote and harsh environments
  • Achieve the greatest amount of food output with minimal inputs and minimal waste
  • Create a variety of palatable, nutritious, and safe foods for space crew members that need limited processing time

Entries do not need to meet the full nutritional requirements of future space crews but should contribute significantly to, and be able to be integrated into, a comprehensive food system.

Interested parties need to register their team by 28th May, and concepts must be designed and submitted by 30th July.

For more information and to check if your team meets the eligibility requirements go to Deep Space Food Challenge.

If you are interested in learning about how technology is revolutionising agriculture here on Earth, read our latest article for our Focus on Data Diagnostics: The Rise of the Digital Farm, by Keith Norman.

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