It would take a lot of food to get astronauts to Mars, but what if they could get whatever they wanted at the push of a button?
NASA is funding an ambitious 3-D printing food project that wants to make that happen, Quartz reports. The space agency's handing over to mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor and his company, Systems & Materials Research Corporation, to spend building a prototype universal food synthesizer. And it could make pizza.
Contractor's food synthesizer would print layers of food from cartridges of powders and oils, creating a perfectly nutritious meal. (It can actually print from any "organic" material with the right ingredients inside, so insect-based pizza may be the proteinaceous meal of choice.) Contractor has already made a chocolate printer as a proof of concept, and now is moving on to a pizza printer.
A pie's a good candidate for this because its made from discrete sections. Each print head would only have the job of printing : either the dough, which would be cooked by a hot plate while being printed; the sauce, which would be a mixture of tomato powder, oil, and water; or the ambiguous, gross-sounding "protein layer," which could be made from milk, animals, or plants.
The cartridges would all have a 30-year shelf-life, enough time for, say, a trip to Mars. The astronauts can switch to real cooking once they get there.
Can it make Tea, Earl Grey, hot...?
It would probably look like the food served on the Discovery 1.
A flat tray of rehydrated mashed potatoes, a flat tray of rehydrated meatloaf powder, a flat tray of rehydrated carrot puree ... All eaten with a spork.
You know, when I first caught wind of the 3D printer's existence I always said this is the beginning of star trek replicator technology. Looks like that exactly what they are trying to go for.
I enjoy watching my 3D printer print something, but it's slow. I can imagine a group of hungry astronauts crowded around a printer as it slowly extrudes their food layer by layer. Very soon it would be murder by spork.
It is going to need plate-sized extruders that can pump out a whole layer at a time.
I bet it could. It would probably boil the water while printing the tea bag. Hahah, I want to see a video.
i like more from movie forth element when Vovich put something like corn in the microwave and get big chicken with vegetables.
Instead of spending millions of dollars on developing these food devices for space travel, why don't we just send fat people into space? The chubby astronauts would be able to live off their stored reserves of fat, and would only need water and air to survive. Fat astronauts would also be accustom to spending extended periods of time lying in a seat. And most importantly, fat astronauts would have the naturally happy type of personality needed for long duration space flights.
What an unesscary invention.
Even the a slow chemical mission can get to Mars in 5 months so even existing ISS food systems are more then sufficent.