We are a step closer to enjoying a roast dinner in space now that a 3D printer was used for successfully creating meat on the International Space Station. The bioprinter created beef, rabbit, and fish tissue by relying on magnetic fields in microgravity. The details were given by a Russian company medical technology company that was involved in the experiment.
The experiment is a joint collaboration that involves US, Russian, and Israeli companies. It was carried out by cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka in September. The experiment took place in the stations’ Russian segment while using a 3D printer that was created in Moscow. The creators have claimed that it is the first bioprinter to develop a small amount of artificial meat in space.
Yusef Khesuani of 3D Bioprinting Solutions – the Russian laboratory behind the creation of the bioprinter – said, ‘It’s one small nibble for man, one giant bite for mankind.’ The laboratory was founded by Invitro – a huge Russian private medicine company. The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, partly financed the experiment under the banner of national importance.
Nikolai Burdeiny, who is the executive director of the state space corporation, including Roscosmos, said, ‘It was really a breakthrough both for Roscosmos and Russia as a whole.’ Khesuani said, ‘For us, it was the first experience of international scientific collaboration in space. Thank God the experiment went successfully… All the cells showed a good result in space.’
For deep space missions, the existing techniques of food storage and transportation won’t suffice. That is why veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko said, ‘If we’re going to fly further from Earth to other planets in the solar system, we can’t take that volume of food with us. In any case, we will have to grow and produce food onboard the spaceship. I think progress is developing very quickly, science and knowledge, and I think this will be within our lifetimes.’
Khesuani says that they would need more complex equipment as opposed to the current printer if they want to create larger amounts of meat. He said, ‘Then we can create not just small objects but big ones, made of a large mass of cells. I hope we will continue these experiments.’