Astronauts successfully grow meat in space for the first time

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What just happened? In a major step towards food sustainability and producing eco-friendly meat, astronauts were able to produce a beef steak on the International Space Station. In the joint experiment that was conducted recently, Aleph Farms (Israel), 3D Bioprinting Solutions (Russia), Meal Source Technologies (US) and Finless Foods (US) came together, 339 km away from any natural resources, to grow the first ever cultivated piece of meat using a bioprinter.

Aleph Farms announced this week that it has taken “one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind” as it successfully grew meat for the first time on the International Space Station, in collaboration with multiple international companies.

The company was co-founded by food-tech incubator The Kitchen, and Prof. Shulamit Levenberg of the Technion University, Israel, with an ambition of providing unconditional access to safe and nutritious meat on Earth, using minimal resources.

The feat was made possible by researchers who take cells from a cow and provide them with nutrients under a controlled environment that simulates the muscle-tissue regeneration process occurring inside the animal’s body. The cells then multiply and grow connective muscle tissue until they eventually become a full-sized steak.

The process took place on 26th of September on the Russian segment of the ISS where they assembled “a small-scale muscle tissue in a 3D bioprinter developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, under micro-gravity conditions,” said Aleph Farm, in its press release.

“In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 Liter (3962.58 Gallon) of water available to produce one Kg (2.205 Pound) of beef,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms. He also stated this achievement as a significant first step towards achieving food security for future generations and preserving natural resources.

Although the space-grown meat isn’t ready for mass production just yet, it can potentially scale up to provide nutritional needs of astronauts during long-term manned space missions and “enhance the capacity for scalable cultured meat production on Earth,” noted 3D Bioprinting Solutions.

Aleph Farms says that its products are likely to be commercially available in the next three or four years.

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