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Using the challenges of space food production to help grow food on Earth


Uploaded on December 16, 2021


Using the challenges of space food production to help grow food on Earth

2021-12-16 – Producing food in extreme or hostile environments like space is a challenge that many of Canada's northern communities also face. The Canadian Space Agency is involved in two food production initiatives that could be applied to long-duration space missions, and also have the potential to benefit people on Earth:

  • the Deep Space Food Challenge, a collaboration with NASA and Impact Canada; and
  • the Naurvik project, a collaboration between the Gjoa Haven community, the Arctic Research Foundation, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the National Research Council Canada.

This video features CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield and celebrity chef Lynn Crawford, both jury members of the Deep Space Food Challenge. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA, University of Waterloo, ESA/NASA–T. Pesquet, Arctic Research Foundation, Canacompost Systems, McGill University / McGill Advanced bio-Regenerative Toolkit for Long Excursion Trips (MARTLET), AlgaBloom International Ltd., Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc., University of Guelph, PeaPod Technologies Inc., Noblegen Inc., Concordia University)


Narrator: Astronauts living on the Moon and Mars will need to grow their own food.

The Canadian Space Agency and Impact Canada, have selected 10 Canadian teams as part of the Deep Space Food Challenge, a collaboration with NASA, to advance cutting-edge food production technologies.

Chris Hadfield: On the International Space Station and the other spaceflights I’ve been on, we’ve brought all the food with us.

We’ve done early developmental testing of how some food might grow, but we sure haven’t developed crops that crew could actually count on for their sustenance and their livelihood.

And that’s where the Deep Space Food Challenge comes in: developing and taking advantage of the new technologies, so we can feed people and astronauts right across the solar system.

Lynn Crawford: The Deep Space Food Challenge is looking for cutting-edge ideas that could apply to space and to remote areas on Earth.

You know, food must be relatively easy to obtain, nutritious, and delicious. Food is a symbol of community, and sharing a meal is how we all connect. It’s part of what makes us who we are.

Narrator: Fresh food in space also means fresh food, right here on Earth.

Matthew Bamsey: The challenges of growing food in Canada’s North are very similar to in space: Harsh environment, limited supplies—and thus we need compact, simple, reliable solutions that minimize inputs and reduce waste production.

Narrator: In remote Gjoa Haven, Nunavut , we’ve teamed up with the local community and partners at Naurvik, or the growing place.

Here, local technicians are using both traditional and Western techniques to grow local crops and berries.

Betty Kogvik: I didn’t know nothing about planting. For the first time, planting something and seeing it growing – it was so exciting. And I’m very thankful for the community, because we have this in our community.

Narrator: The Deep Space Food Challenge semi-finalists will receive funding to build prototypes of their food production technologies.

Ilias Hader: Not everyone can be an astronaut, but space exploration actually goes way beyond that.

This actually marks the beginning of a new era, where we shift away from science fiction to turn creative design and engineering into reality.

And what’s great is that our ideas could improve life here on Earth.


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