While the worlds of space travel and bioprinting have been intertwined for some time, they are both now colliding with the world of artificially grown meat. That’s right. Meat has been bioprinted in space.
The project was initiated by Aleph Farms, a food-tech company specializing in cultivated beef steaks, and 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a Russian bioprinting company that sent its 3D bioprinter to the ISS in late 2018. The project also saw support from U.S.-based Meal Source Technologies and Finless Foods.
The experiment of bioprinting meat in space was successfully completed on September 26th in the Russian segment of the International Space Station and consisted of printing a small-scale muscle tissue using 3D Bioprinting Solutions’ bioprinting technology. The proof of concept sought to assess the potential of producing cultivated meat in a zero-gravity environment away from land and water resources.
Aleph Farms’ approach to producing cultivated beef steaks was imperative to the experiment, as it relies on recreating the natural process of muscle-tissue regeneration that happens in a cow’s body but under controlled, animal-free conditions. The company’s overarching goal is to produce edible meat products that have a significantly reduced ecological impact.
“In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liters (3962.58 Gallon) of water available to produce one Kg (2.205 Pound) of beef,” explained Didier Toubia, Co-Founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. “This joint experiment marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources.”
On Earth, animal farming has been recognized as one of the most environmentally taxing industries. A report published in September 2019 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change illuminates how current animal farming methods are contributing significantly to climate change through deforestation, pollution and more.
“The mission of providing access to high-quality nutrition anytime, anywhere in a sustainable way is an increasing challenge for all humans,” added Jonathan Berger, CEO of The Kitchen, a food-tech incubator. “On Earth or up above, we count on innovators like Aleph Farms to take the initiative to provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as the climate crisis.”