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
National

Actor Tracy Morgan wasn't wearing seatbelt in June…

By Jonathan Stempel(Reuters) - Actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and others in his limousine were not wearing seat belts when their vehicle was struck by…

National

Connected cars: Is AT&T leaving Verizon in its…

By Marina Lopes and Bernie WoodallWASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) - Verizon Communications, the No.1 U.S. wireless carrier known for its widespread coverage, is falling behind its biggest…

Local

Grand jury begins hearing evidence in Eric Garner…

A grand jury began hearing evidence Monday relating to the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in July. Garner, 43, of Staten Island,…

Local

Mayor announces plan for solar panels at city…

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the planned installation of 24 new solar panels at city schools on Monday morning. The panels, a $28 million investment,…

Going Out

Taste what Lower Manhattan is cooking at today's…

The Lower Manhattan food scene has changed a lot in three years, which you can taste first hand when the neighborhood's food festival returns. On…

Television

Review: 'Selfie' tries to coast on the charm…

"Selfie" offers cute leads and some good jokes, but focuses too much on a vague distaste for social media.

Movies

Review: Jason Reitman's 'Men, Women & Children' is…

Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children" takes a hysterical and melodramatic look at disconnection in the digital age, turning strong actors into zombies.

Television

TV watch list, Monday, Sept. 29: 'Castle,' 'Mom'…

Tune in for the season premieres of "Castle," "Mom" and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

NFL

Ryan Quigley making a big impact for Jets…

Ryan Quigley, now in his second year as the Jets punter, had an exceptional afternoon with six punts for an average of 51.7 yards per punt.

NFL

3 positives to take from Jets loss to…

The Jets suffered another loss Sunday — 24-17 to the Lions — but the reason why it hurts so much for Jets fans is that…

MLB

Joe Girardi not confident David Robertson will return…

David Robertson was as seamless as anyone could be replacing Mariano Rivera as he converted 39 saves, with a 3.08 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony preaches patience with new coach, offense

While star forward Carmelo Anthony said he’s “enthusiastic” and “optimistic” for the upcoming season, he still wants everyone — from within the locker room and…

Education

How to ace your private school interview

Getting ready for a private school interview can be daunting for many, most of whom might never have been in an interview situation before. We’ve…

Education

5 questions parents should ask while visiting private…

It can be hard to know what to look for when searching for a new school for your child. Parents considering several different schools can…

Education

3 ways to save money on college application…

With the average high school student applying to 5 or 6 schools, hefty application and test score fees can add up quickly. We’ve compiled some…

Education

Nap rooms: The latest college campus trend

College is a time filled with new experiences (and lots of schoolwork), leaving little time for students to get a good night’s rest. University of…