Who would have thought that we would be gearing up to send people to Mars?! Spear headed by Elon Musk, the engineering and techno side of the Mars mission is well covered, but the question remains: How are they going to feed these newly baptised Martians?
Currently one of the main challenges preventing extended space missions is the ability to provide enough food to last the entire trip. And with Mars being an incredibly far way away, this challenge is beginning to look pretty daunting. Space agriculture may sounds like an futuristic concept, but it isn’t an entirely new field of research. And to make things even more interesting, there has already been preliminary research into the use of insect farming in space travel. Intergalactic insect farming if you will!
How does on earth (or Mars rather) are they planning on breeding insects on a space ship?! There are two proposed approaches at this stage.
Farming live insects grown on the indigestible plant matter from the small scale spaceship farms. This is great, because you are removing the waste and creating good quality protein at the same time (insect protein).
The second approach is slightly less ‘holistic’ but may potentially be more efficient. It is possible to harvest insect tissue in an artificial culture medium, where the insect cells would be grown in a vessel. The down side, is that the Astronauts would have to take food for the insect cells into space with them, and with space being at a premium, this isn’t necessarily the best option.
Whether Space X is willing to consider taking these little critters on board as a tasty snack hasn’t been discussed quite yet, but here are some good reasons as to why we think it could work quite well:
With sending Astronauts into space for increasingly longer periods of time, there are no available resources and space agriculture with the use of insects will allow for longer and more in depth space missions to take place.
Space agriculture in general can provide fresh, nutritious foods on board, so astronauts don’t have to live on rehydrated powders for extended periods of time. They can therefore get some more variation in their diet and also ensure that they are getting all the right nutrients to stay healthy.
Insects can help recycle the agricultural waste matter, produced on the spaceships whilst in transit to their destination. This means that waste can be disposed of and food can be produced in one foul swoop. That definitely sounds like a good deal to us!
There are many other benefits that can be discussed but we think we’ve made our point, which of course is, insects are nutritious, easy to grow and cost effective to introduce into anyone’s diet! Especially those people that are brave enough to take on the unknown area we call space. Although we are uncertain about whether this concept will be implemented by Elon Musk’s SpaceX project, we certainly hope that we have made a compelling case for this cause, as the benefits cannot be more prevalent.