Extreme Tech reports on a recent development carried out by Russian cosmonauts on the Russian side of the International Space Station up in Earth orbit.
Apparently, these Russian cosmonauts were able to 3D print synthetic meat in space! Prior to the success of this experiment, the “options for artificial meat were limited to plant-based materials from brands like Impossible and Beyond. The next step would be to generate real meat with the aid of bioprinting.”
This is where Israeli startup Aleph Farms comes in.
Aleph Farms “has partnered with several 3D printing companies to conduct this experiment with Russian cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station.” Aleph Farms claims “this is the first time anyone has produced synthetic meat in space.”
In order to create this synthetic meat, Aleph Farms’ process involves “mimicking the natural muscle-tissue regeneration process in cows. If you’ve ever eaten a bad steak, you know it’s not just the animals cells which matter – it’s also the way in which they are organized.”
Aleph Farms’ “process results in a more realistic piece of slaughter-free meat. Getting a meaty texture right has been a challenge for lab-grown meat, and doing this work in space could help inform how we do it back here on Earth.”
As for the cosmonauts’ experiment, they used a “printer developed by Russia-based 3D Bioprinting Solutions. The animal cells were mixed with growth factors to create the ‘bio-ink’ for the printer. The printer lays down layer after layer of cells, which grow into a small piece of muscle tissue. The company says bioprinting meat in space has the potential to be much faster than it is on Earth. Without gravity, the biomaterial can grow in all directions without a support structure. On Earth, a lattice is required and means you can only print from one side at a time.” Up in space, the process can be made far more efficient.
Of course, financially viable 3D printed meat on Earth is a long way off, “but the costs of space travel are already astronomical. It would behoove interstellar explorers on extended missions to produce some of their meat in 3D printers.”
However, “Aleph Farms still aims to begin expanding its beef printing techniques here on Earth, paving the way for the bioprinting and selling of meat requiring far less water and farmland than traditional cow meat.”
Image and Quotes Courtesy of Extreme Tech