Space + Flight

03
Jun

3D Printing Pizza in Space

Christopher Mims, reporting for Quartz on Anjan Contractor’s plan to build a 3D printer for food, which was recently funded by NASA:

He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally-appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store. Contractor’s vision would mean the end of food waste, because the powder his system will use is shelf-stable for up to 30 years, so that each cartridge, whether it contains sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein or some other basic building block, would be fully exhausted before being returned to the store.

NASA is particularly interested in the project to outfit future missions that could last for months, or even years, such as one to Mars. Freeze dried food—the astronaut staple—isn’t ideal, according to NASA, because the process breaks down micronutrients. They hope the powders won’t have the same problems.

At the Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center, chefs are devising new ways of cooking up dishes that will taste as fresh and healthy on the last day of the trip as they did on the first.

To win the grant from NASA, Contractor first built a prototype, which slathered a cookie with extruded chocolate.

Contractor is hard at work on a pizza printer, a dish uniquely suited to 3D printing because of the way it’s traditionally made, layer by layer. Pizza in space, anyone?