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Russian cosmonauts to print self-generating food on orbital outpost in future

The technologies will allow printing meat in sufficient amounts in the future to provide food for crewmembers of space expeditions

MOSCOW, March 5. /TASS/. 3D bioprinting technologies will help supply long-term space expedition members with self-generating food, Managing Partner of 3D Bioprinting Solutions Laboratory Yusef Khesuani told TASS on Tuesday.

The company wants to conduct an experiment on the orbital outpost to print the cells of beef using the Organ-Avt bioprinter. The technologies tested during the experiment will allow printing meat in sufficient amounts in the future to provide food for crewmembers of space expeditions, he said.

"The ideology is as follows: we will be sending them cells in very small cuvettes. These cells grow very well and, notionally speaking, 100 cells can be dispatched while cosmonauts will be able to obtain 100 million cells from them. They will be growing these cells already in outer space and, correspondingly, use them as food," Khesuani said, adding that both Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos and NASA have displayed interest in these technologies.

A large amount of water will be required to obtain a large number of cells and create such self-generating food, he noted.

"Recirculating water can be used. The main goal is to obtain self-generating food for long-distance flights to provide for the mode autonomous from Earth," Khesuani said.

In addition to meat, scientists also want to try to print fish, using the bioprinter. The cells of the salmon and the Bluefin are already available in the 3D Bioprinting Solutions Laboratory. After tests on the ground, the experiment for the bioprinting of fish will possibly be carried out on the ISS, he said.

Organ-Avt bioprinter

The Organ-Avt bioprinter developed to carry out the world’s first experiment for printing living tissues was delivered to the space station on December 3 aboard the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.

The magnetic 3D-bioprinter has been devised to grow living tissues and eventually organs and it can also be used to study the influence of outer space conditions on living organisms during lengthy flights.

The experiment has been devised by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, a bio-technical research laboratory, which is a Russian start-up and a subsidiary of Invitro company.

The plans to deliver the bioprinter’s first copy failed after the aborted launch of the Soyuz-FG booster with the manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft from the Baikonur spaceport on October 11.

The biological samples were delivered back to Earth aboard the manned Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft on December 20.