The Growth of Meat in Space
“Better meat down the space street”
No one delivers pizza in space. It’s sad but true. If you want to grow up to be an astronaut someday, don’t do it for the food! Eating in space can be a real challenge. Why? There’s no gravity! If you let go of a French fry, it will float off and drift around your spaceship! Good luck holding onto your dinner. How about a cup of water? Forget it! Water won’t stay in a cup. It, too, will float through the air.
So how do astronauts stay in space for days or weeks at a time? Scientists have come up with special ways of packaging and eating foods in space. The first space foods were soft (kind of like baby food!) packaged in tubes like toothpaste. John Glenn became the first U.S. astronaut to eat in space in 1962. He ate applesauce from an aluminium tube during a Mercury mission. He had to squeeze the food into his mouth.
If that doesn’t sound very good to you, you’re not alone. Astronauts weren’t crazy about it, either. Eventually, scientists found ways to make better, tastier space foods. They were also easier to eat!
Techniques of carrying food to space:
Heat processed foods in aluminium or bimetallic tins and retort pouches are the most commonly processed foods.
These foods are preserved by exposure to ionizing radiation and packed in flexible foil laminated pouches.
Intermediate moisture foods:
These are dried foods with low moisture content such as dried apricots, which are packed in flexible pouches.
These are the second most common foods. They are prepared to the ready to eat stage, frozen and then dried in a freeze dryer which removes the water by sublimation. Freeze-dried foods such as fruits may be eaten as it is while others require the addition of hot or cold water before consumption.
Dried foods and cereals that are rehydrated with water produced by the shuttle orbiter’s fuel cell system, packed in a semi-rigid plastic container with a septum for water injection come in this category.
Foods such as nuts, crunch bars, and cookies. Packed in flexible plastic pouches are carried in their natural form to space.
Drinks have to be dehydrated. They’re kept in powder form in special pouches. The pouches have built-in straws or special nozzles. That way, astronauts can drink straight from the pouch after water is added. Just like flights, the beverages are carried in powder mix forms, so you can just add hot water to make a coffee!
How does the Israeli startup successfully grow meat in space?
Do you know that the weight allowed for food is limited to 1.72 kg per person per day which includes the 0.45 kg of packaging weight?
Do you have a favourite food you’d want to take with you to space? What do you think dehydrated pizza would look like? How about chicken nuggets? Mashed potatoes? Space food may not always look all that tasty. But it gives astronauts the nutrients they need to do their jobs well! Do you carve for meat?
The technology used in the meat growing process:
Apparently, it’s possible to cultivate meat in space, too. Seemingly not satisfied with simply producing the world’s first cell-grown minute steak, Israeli food-tech company Aleph Farms has announced the successful cultivation of meat aboard the International Space Station (ISS), some 400 kilometres (250 miles) above Earth.
Describing the achievement as “an essential growth indicator of sustainable food production methods,” the cultured-meat technology developed aims to reduce reliance on vast stretches of land, water, feed, antibiotics and other resources typically associated with traditional agriculture. Grown from a few cells extracted painlessly from a living animal, the laboratory-cultivation method mimics the natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration occurring inside the animal’s body, under controlled conditions.
Once cells are extracted from the animal, they must be nourished and grown to produce a complex matrix replicating bovine muscle tissue. The experiment was carried out on September 26 in the Russian segment of the ISS by experienced cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka. The proof of concept was established by assembling a small-scale muscle tissue in a three-dimensional bioprinter which was developed by Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions.
Nourishment of animal cells to grow meat:
“In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 litres of water available to produce one kilogram of meat”, says a researcher. This joint experiment marks a significant first step toward achieving a vision to ensure food security for generations to come while preserving our natural resources. It has combined six unique technologies and that includes innovative approaches related to an animal-free growth medium to nourish the cells and bioreactors, the tanks in which the meat tissue grows.
This mission of providing access to high-quality nutrition anytime, anywhere in a sustainable way is an increasing challenge for all humans. On Earth or up above, the counts on innovators to take the initiative to provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as the climate crisis. With global consumption of ruminant meat projected to rise by 88% between 2010 and 2050, it’s vital to find less resource-intensive ways of producing it. Consumers eager to taste cultivated meat grown by the company and its competitors will need to remain patient. Cultivated meat, slaughter-free meat produced by in vitro cultivation of animal cells, could represent the solution to this challenge. Lab-grown products are unlikely to hit the supermarket shelves for at least several years as the cost-effective production methods are in the developing stage and likely to encounter regulatory barriers.
Image Courtesy: Sputnik News.com
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