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NASA astronaut Megan McArthur enjoys fresh food on the International Space Station.

Variety, nutrition and taste are some considerations when developing food for astronauts. For NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, students, chefs, small businesses, and others whipped up novel food technology designs to bring new solutions to the table.

NASA has selected 18 U.S. teams to receive a total of $450,000 for ideas that could feed astronauts on future missions. Each team will receive $25,000. Additionally, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency jointly recognized 10 international submissions.

NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website will air a show on the Deep Space Food Challenge at 10 a.m. CST Nov. 9 with details about the competition, winning solutions, and what could be next for the teams.

Special guests during the show will include celebrity chef Martha Stewart and retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who will announce the winners of two awards honoring international teams that demonstrated exceptional innovation. Other participants will include retired Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford.

“NASA is excited to engage the public in developing technologies that could fuel our deep space explorers,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters. “Our approach to deep space human exploration is strengthened by new technological advances and diverse community input. This challenge helps us push the boundaries of exploration capabilities in ways we may not recognize on our own.”

NASA, in coordination with the Canadian Space Agency, opened the Deep Space Food Challenge in January. The competition asked innovators to design food production technologies or systems that met specific requirements: They would need to use minimal resources and produce minimal waste. The meals they produced would have to be safe, nutritious, and delicious for long-duration human exploration missions.

For the U.S. teams, NASA’s judges grouped submissions based on the food they envisioned producing. Among the designs were systems that used ingredients to create ready-to-eat foods, such as bread, as well as dehydrated powders that could be processed into more complex food products. Others involved cultivated plants and fungi or engineered or cultured food, such as cultured meat cells.

Details about the winning submissions and teams can be found on the challenge website.

“These types of food systems could offer benefits on our home planet,” said Robyn Gatens, director of the International Space Station Program at NASA and challenge judge. “Solutions from this challenge could enable new avenues for worldwide food production in resource-scarce regions and locations where disasters disrupt critical infrastructure.”

The winning U.S. teams, in alphabetical order, are:

Astra Gastronomy of San Francisco

BeeHex of Columbus, Ohio

BigRedBites of Ithaca, New York

Biostromathic of Austin, Texas

Cosmic Eats of Cary, North Carolina

Deep Space Entomoculture of Somerville, Massachusetts

Far Out Foods of St. Paul, Minnesota

Hefvin of Bethesda, Maryland

Interstellar Lab of Los Angeles

Kemel Deltech USA of Cape Canaveral, Florida

Mission: Space Food of Mountain View, California

Nolux of Riverside, California

Project MIDGE of La Crescenta-Montrose, California

RADICLE-X of Brooklyn, New York

SIRONA NOMs of Golden, Colorado

Space Bread of Hawthorne, Florida

Space Lab Café of Boulder, Colorado

µBites of Carbondale, Illinois

The Canadian Space Agency ran a parallel competition with a separate application, judging process, and prize for participating Canadian teams. The agency will announce its winners at a later date.

Teams from outside the U.S. and Canada qualified for recognition but were not eligible for monetary prizes. The 10 international submissions recognized are:

ALSEC Alimentos Secos SAS of Antioquia, Colombia

Ambar of Bucaramanga, Colombia

Electric Cow of Germany

Enigma of the Cosmos of Écully, France and Brunswick, Australia

JPWORKS SRL of Milan, Italy

KEETA of Bangkok, Thailand

LTCOP of Piracicaba, Brazil

Natufia X Edama of Thuwal, Saudi Arabia

Solar Foods of Lappeenranta, Finland

π of Ghaziabad, India

The Deep Space Food Challenge is a NASA Centennial Challenge. Centennial Challenges are part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate at the agency’s Headquarters and are managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Subject matter experts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center support the competition. NASA, in partnership with the Methuselah Foundation, manages the U.S. and international Deep Space Food Challenge competition.

Editor’s note: Taylor Goodwin, an LSINC employee, supports Marshall’s Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications.

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