Developing innovative food production technologies with the Deep Space Food Challenge
The Canadian Space Agency and NASA tackle food accessibility in space and on Earth
January 12, 2021 – Longueuil, Quebec
Today, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) announced the Deep Space Food Challenge in Canada, a competition to develop innovative ways of producing food for astronauts on space missions to the Moon and Mars, while expanding opportunities for food production on Earth.
Ensuring that astronauts have nutritious food is a critical component of all human space exploration missions. It will be even more important for future long-duration missions to deep space. Crews will not be able to carry all their food, so they will have to produce food in space to meet their nutritional needs. Some of the challenges of producing food in space are the same as those of growing food in harsh environments on Earth, including remote northern communities.
The CSA and the Privy Council Office's Impact Canada Initiative are working with NASA on the Deep Space Food Challenge. Participants are asked to create novel food production technologies that require minimal inputs (materials, energy, water, etc.) and maximize safe, nutritious, and palatable food. These innovations will not only be used for space missions, but will also have the potential to benefit people on Earth, particularly in remote and harsh environments, such as Canada's North.
The Deep Space Food Challenge is in line with Canada's Space Strategy's commitment to harness space to solve everyday challenges on Earth – like access to nutritious food. All Canadian innovators are invited to submit a design concept for their food production technology by July 30, 2021.
"With the Deep Space Food Challenge, we are asking Canadians to find innovative ways to produce food in deep space that could also help those living in remote regions with harsh environments, such as Canada's northern communities. Together with our partners, we are leading on space innovations that will also improve the lives of Canadians."
— Lisa Campbell, President of the Canadian Space Agency
The Deep Space Food Challenge is the first-ever Centennial Challenge that the CSA has coordinated with NASA.
Up to 10 semi-finalists will build a prototype of their food production technology, and up to four finalists will then make a full-scale system to support long-duration missions in space and to improve the accessibility of nutritious food across Canada.
Throughout this three-phase challenge, the CSA will distribute over $1 million in prizes to Canadian winners:
- Phase 1: Teams will submit a concept of a novel food production technology. Up to 10 semi-finalists will receive $30,000 and move on to Phase 2.
- Phase 2: Semi-finalists will build a food production technology prototype. Up to four Canadian teams will receive $100,000 and move on to Phase 3.
- Phase 3: Finalists will build a full-scale food production technology. The Canadian grand prize winner will receive $380,000.
The challenge is open to commercial and non-commercial organizations and individuals in Canada. Interested parties in the U.S. and other countries may refer to the deepspacefoodchallenge.org website for more information on how to enter the challenge.
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