NASA investing in 3-D food printer for astronauts

The NASA logo on a protective box for a camera near the space shuttle Endeavour April 28, 2011 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida as preparations are under way for an April 29 launch of Endeavour, which will be its last flight. AFP PHOTO/Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
The NASA logo on a protective box for a camera near the space shuttle Endeavour April 28, 2011 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

In a scene right out of Star Trek, a Texas company is developing a 3-D food printer for astronauts to create custom meals on the fly.

With support from NASA, the firm, Systems and Materials Research Corp of Austin, intends to design, build and test a food printer that can work in space.

“This project is to demonstrate we can create and change the nutrition of the food and be able to print it in a low-gravity environment,” the company’s research director and lead chemist, David Irvin, told Reuters.

Three-dimensional printers create solid objects by depositing droplets of material one layer at a time.

Systems and Materials intends to create nutritionally rich, aesthetically appealing and tasty synthetic food by combining powdered proteins, starches, fats and flavors with water or oil to produce a wide array of digital recipes.

All the ingredients are designed for extremely long shelf-lives, making them suitable for long stays in space.

“The 3-D printing system will provide hot and quick food in addition to personalized nutrition, flavor and taste,” the company wrote in its proposal to NASA.

“The biggest advantage of 3-D printed food technology will be zero waste, which is essential in long-distance space missions,” it added.

Ultimately, the company sees food printers as a way to help feed a world population that is estimated to reach 12 billion by the end of the century. The technology may also have implications for the military.

“A 3D-printed food system can reduce military logistics, disposal waste, increase operational efficiency and mission effectiveness especially during wartime,” the company said.

“In addition, 3-D printed food can provide optimal nutrient to the soldiers depending on their personal needs and level of physical activities.”

Eventually Irvin sees a day when food printers will play a role in everyday diet and nutrition.

“The initial plan is to work with NASA and the astronauts and then as things become commercially viable, we will definitely consider weight loss and weight gain” applications, Irvin said.

The company’s six-month, Small Business Innovation Research study contract, worth up to $125,000, is pending, said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel.

“These are very early stage concepts that may or may not mature into actual systems. This technology may result in a Phase 2 study, which will still be several years from flight hardware,” Beutel added.

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Gossip

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

Music

Incubus singer Brandon Boyd on his newest act,…

The rocker is releasing two new passion projects.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…