During a panel at The Future of Food @ SXSW, panelists argued that innovation in the food system can help drive space exploration and address challenges of food security and sustainability.
“Everyone who’s an explorer has to consider their food supply,” says Dane Gobel, Co-founder of the Methuselah Foundation, supporting NASA Deep Space Food Challenge.
According to Gobel, the shelf-stable foods that exist today are not viable for space missions that spans three to five years. The NASA Deep Space Food Challenge seeks innovative ideas for food production technologies or systems that require minimal resources and produce minimal waste, while providing safe, nutritious, and tasty food for long-term travel.
But the panelists also believe that the technologies developed for the challenge will also have applications for those on Earth.
“In order for humans to do anything in space, we have to take our biology with us,” says Mackenze McAleer, CEO for FreshProduce.Supply. “We’re taking that technology to space and studying how to make it resilient and build it into ecologies that support life.”
This will be important, Chef Joseph Yoon, because “at the rate we’re using the world’s resources, we are a tipping point where we will need to address how we will sustainably produce enough food for the burgeoning global population.” A culinary advisor to the Deep Space Challenge, Yoon goes on to say that the initiative poses the question: “How can we apply this technology to address food security and sustainability?”
“Everything has to be hyper-engineered [for space],” Gobel says. “It’s the perfect place to test out new technologies.”
Watch the full conversation here:
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