There has been an awful lot of discussion about using 3D printers to create food. In fact, there have been rudimentary, Easy-Bake-Oven-like attempts at printers that can create a few different foods, such as bacon. These printers are fun enough for the regular consumer, but NASA needs a far more heavy-duty food printer.
At the moment, there are billions of dollars invested in trips to Mars. The first set of colonists is set to arrive in 2023. There are, of course, a host of things to figure out when sending folks on a 7-month journey that ends on a planet devoid of all the things that keep us alive. One of them is how to feed everyone.
That’s why NASA shelled out $125,000 for a six-month grant for Anjan Contractor, a mechanical engineer at Systems and Materials Research Corporation in Austin. The money is to help him develop a working model of his universal food synthesizer.
For the idea to work, the food itself must be able to last for 15 years or more. So Contractor plans to take food and create it in powder form, removing all moisture. He predicts it could last up to 30 years like this.
Of course, this probably sounds similar to freeze-dried food like the pizza-in-a-pouch you might have had as a kid when visiting the National Air and Space Museum.
But his idea takes things further: the idea that you could take the separate proteins then run them through a 3-D printer to create synthetic za. Now, we never claimed it would taste good, but it’s an interesting idea and Contractor now has a good bit of dough to get started on it. No pun intended.
The best part? By using powders, it’ll be way easier to use ingredients like insects and algae! Fantastic!
He’d better hurry though. If Domino’s moon store works out, the company just might put one on Mars!