Space Food

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June 4, 2059

From: Isabella

To: Christof and Aische   


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Hey Mom and Dad! Thanks for the birthday note yesterday, things have been really busy up here recently, but it was really nice of you to send that along – I know you are still worried about me being up here, but I have never felt better. 

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Well yea I guess I do look a little worn – today could have been worse…I mean, don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed my birthday. It would have been better with you all up here, but all things considered, it was really good. And no mom, I didn’t find a nice German boy up here…isn’t that what you always ask me after I go to a party? 

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Hahahaha fair point dad, I guess finding one up here would make it more likely that I did stay up here. Anyhow enough about my love life – I forgot to update you all last week on how far we have come with the surrogate incubation system. 

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Sorry Dad, I know you don’t like me calling it surrogate – but that is the actual name. You know we use the surrogate bacteria to generate carbohydrate and protein based substances. I suppose it would be easier for me to just call them the food processors,….  

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Hey mom – remember I’ll signal when my message is done so you don’t have to worry about missing anything. Just watch the corner of the screen – when it goes green then I have stopped transmitting

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Yes I know this was easier when I lived in Berlin…but to be fair the view from here is way better than my old apartment…and I still don’t have blinds

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Ok back to the food processors…dad, they are so much more than that!  We are using the proteins to repair our suits up here, and I think there is a possibility we will end up being able to actually grow custom foods that actually taste good with this process!    

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Haha you are right – no one is going to be a food tourist up here anytime soon.     

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Thanks mom – but I don’t mind dad’s interruptions, usually in our conversations I give him a hard time for talking in German to try and fool the spies he is sure are watching me. So I can tease him right back.

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So back to these processors – you remember when I stopped doing that artificial intelligence ethics work right? It was so weird to get a job working on this project to use bacteria to grow carbohydrates from carbon dioxide…I figured it would just be a stop over job until I found something I could really get into.

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Exactly – I didn’t think I would find something I liked this much based on my background in political science, and that time working AI. But man this is some fascinating stuff. We have managed to cross the 10g/liter production threshold per week, which is huge. We are already able to generate about 100 liters of bacteria a week, and keeping these bacteria in the water around the cargo ships moving around out here allows people to have both radiation shielding and food! It is so awesome. 

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Well true – these bacteria are resistant to radiation, so that allows them to live in the radiation shield, but no we are making sure these and all subsequent strains remain non-threatening to humans. 

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Hahaha – no it doesn’t work like that mom – I think you have been watching old movies too much. These bacteria actually never leave the radiation shield, and the product we get out is carefully treated to make sure it isn’t contaminated. All ships still keep at least a week’s supply of emergency food on hand just in case. I mean the worst case scenario would be the bacteria all die…the antibiotics available in any ship medical kit would be enough to help anyone who happened to get an infection. 

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Oh ok – sorry I guess I was probably getting a little boring there. Yes I am really enjoying my job up here, and hopefully I’ll still be able to be back for Oktoberfest. I’ll keep you updated.   

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The Real Deal

Seems a tad far fetched – right? Having bacteria grow food in space…well right now NASA is sponsoring research into just that (well technically it is research into bacteria growing silk), and so far the study is showing pretty good promise. It is a few decades away from being able to supply even a single person with enough nutrition to sustain, but it will likely emerge as a key component in future long-distance space missions where weight and space will be at a premium. 

The ability to engineer bacteria to be both hearty enough to survive the radiation in space, and prolific enough to make enough protein, carbohydrates, spider silk, or whatever else will no doubt be tricky business, and I don’t envy the people who have to taste test any food that comes from this. But at the end of the day – the ability to essentially self generate food will be a huge boon to any space-based community.  

Next Time

Next time we will look at NASA’s planned gateway to the moon. If you missed it, check out my first post about vacation homes in low earth orbit.

Also feel free to check out my nutrition blog if you are interested in learning more about anti-inflammation supplements, foods, or just like reading different things.

Until next time nerds 🙂

7 thoughts on “Space Food

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  3. Space Monkey Reply

    What is coffee like in space?

    To whom it may concern,
    Please figure out how to grow avocados in space.

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