Quartz reports that since 2000, the International Space Station (ISS) has been home to over 100 space travelers
Constrained by microgravity and no refrigeration, the current food system in space consists of fully processed, individually packaged foods. You know those unidentifiable pouches. This food system is further limited by mass, volume, water and crew time constraints. They point out that there’s only so much space in a rocket, and an astronaut’s time would be much better spent working on science experiments than preparing meals.
There has been a lot of talk recently about going to Mars, but the reality is that it will take up to 32 months to travel there. Quarts asks, “How can you feed a crew for that three-year trip?”
Here’s another problem: It currently costs about $10,000 to launch one pound of food to the ISS, and the cost for a Mars mission is expected to be much higher.
3D printing, Quartz writes, could provide a solution to all of these shortcomings and help develop a viable food system on Mars. Pastes made with water, bulk protein and carbohydrate powders would serve as the base for 3D-printed food. By combining vitamin and mineral mixtures, flavors, colors and oils to the pastes, the 3D-produced foods could be tailored to meet the personal nutritional needs and taste preferences of each crew member—a crew member could make a pizza with tomato sauce one day and pesto sauce the next. They would be able to create a diverse menu, and with minimal waste.
Perfect for Mars and perfect for Earth.