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NASA selects winners for its Space Food Challenge, a program to develop food systems for space.

Microgreen food production system

The second phase of NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge concluded with the announcement of eight winning teams who received a total of $750,000 in prizes. These teams will now advance to the third and final phase of the competition.

With NASA’s upcoming mission to explore the far reaches of our solar system, it’s crucial to develop food systems that can sustain astronauts for extended periods. The Deep Space Food Challenge has been launched to encourage innovators worldwide to create solutions that can provide nourishment to astronauts on long-term space missions.

Amy Kaminski, program executive for Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing in NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, announced:

“These creative winning solutions come from teams made up of business, universities, and individual solvers, showcasing how NASA can benefit from everyone’s expertise to solve crucial challenges. We’re excited to announce Phase 3 of the challenge to see where these teams can take their technologies next.”

In Phase 2, numerous teams were assigned to construct and exhibit compact models of technologies that consume fewer resources and generate minimal waste, all while producing nourishing, safe, and delectable food for astronauts. After careful evaluation by a panel of judges, eight victors were chosen to advance to Phase 3, where they will build and demonstrate full-scale food technologies within the year.

The following U.S. teams will each receive $150,000 in prizes from NASA and advance to compete for up to $1.5 million in total prizes from NASA in Phase 3:

  • Air Company of Brooklyn, New York, developed a system and processes for turning air, water, electricity, and yeast into food.
  • Interstellar Lab of Merritt Island, Florida, created a modular bioregenerative system for producing fresh microgreens, vegetables, mushrooms, and insects.
  • Kernel Deltech USA of Cape Canaveral, Florida, developed a system for cultivating mushroom-based ingredients.
  • Nolux of Riverside, California, created a solution that mimics the photosynthesis that happens in nature to produce plant- and mushroom-based ingredients.
  • SATED (Safe Appliance, Tidy, Efficient, and Delicious) of Boulder, Colorado, developed a space cooking appliance that would allow astronauts to prepare a variety of meals from ingredients with long shelf lives.

NASA and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) also jointly selected three international teams as Phase 2 winners. These three teams are invited to advance their technologies in Phase 3:

  • Enigma of the Cosmos of Melbourne, Australia, created an adaptive growing system to increase the efficiency of plants’ natural growth cycles.
  • Mycorena of Gothenburg, Sweden, developed a system that uses a combination of microalgae and fungi to produce a microprotein.
  • Solar Foods of Lappeenranta, Finland, created a system that uses gas fermentation to produce single-cell proteins.

Denise Morris, program manager of NASA Centennial Challenges at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said,

“Astronauts will tell you that tasty and nutritious food is a critical part of any successful human space exploration mission. The possibilities presented in this challenge could help sustain our explorers on future missions, and even have the potential to help out right here on Earth in areas where food is scarce or hard to produce.”

The competition is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between NASA and CSA. On April 27, CSA awarded prizes to the teams advancing to the final stage of the Canadian challenge, which runs in parallel with NASA’s.

Edible fungi
Edible fungi prepared by Interstellar Lab’s NUCLEUS food production system.

The Deep Space Food Challenge is one of NASA’s Centennial Challenges, which are part of the Prizes, Challenges, and Crowdsourcing program within STMD. NASA Marshall manages Centennial Challenges. Subject matter experts at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida support the competition. NASA, in partnership with the Methuselah Foundation, manages the U.S. and international competitors.

For more information on NASA’s Deep Space Food Challenge, visit:

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

Microgreen food production system via NASA with usage type - Public Domain. NASA/Methuselah Foundation
Edible fungi via NASA with usage type - Public Domain. NASA/Methuselah Foundation

Featured Image Credit

Microgreen food production system via NASA with usage type - Public Domain. NASA/Methuselah Foundation


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