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

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…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

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.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

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.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.