They cultivate artificial meat for the first time at the International Space Station

In the International Space Station they have managed to grow artificial meat in space, something that could improve the diet of astronauts.

In the early days of space travel, astronauts did not eat delicacies. Their diet was based on a protein conglomerate that was extracted from a kind of dentifrice tube. Now things are better. They can eat fresh fruit and even ice cream. But everything has its limits.

However, an experiment has recently been carried out that can open the doors to a substantial improvement in astronaut feeding. A collaboration between the Israeli company Aleph Farms – which works with meat grown in the laboratory – and the Russian 3D Bioprinting Solutions has allowed for the first time to create artificial meat in space.

Aleph Farms’ usual solution is to take cells from a cow from a biopsy. These are provided with an adequate environment in the laboratory, rich in nutrients, so that they reproduce. Thus, by multiplying these cells pieces of meat are grown.

The process is a bit different to grow artificial meat in space. The company introduced the cow’s cells and nutrients into two tubes. These were loaded on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft and took off towards the International Space Station. When they arrived, the Russian cosmonauts inserted the tubes into a 3D printer from the 3D company Bioprinting Solutions.

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The 3D printer managed to replicate the cells to produce muscle tissue that served as meat food. For now it is only an experiment, but it is hoped that the results can soon be extended to space missions on a regular basis.

Food to go to Mars

There has already been another occasion when artificial food has been cultivated at the International Space Station. In 2015 it was tested to grow lettuce. While NASA has an ambitious project in this area. It is a kind of orchard in space, which would allow to produce lettuce, strawberries, carrots or potatoes. All this would be cultivated in a space station that would orbit the Moon.

The project makes sense with a view to longer space travel. Experts say that the Moon can play a fundamental role for the arrival on Mars, as it could serve as a supply base.

In any case, the interest in producing food in space is related to Mars. And it is that a system to create different types of food in space could greatly facilitate the feeding of astronauts.

Images: NASA

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