The European space agency ESA is investigating whether it is possible to grow meat outside Earth, so that explorers on other celestial bodies, such as the moon and Mars, can make their food.
If that succeeds, far fewer supplies need to be flown in from Earth. Astronaut food may become a bit more haute cuisine in a few years.
In cultured meat, a cell of an animal is used to grow into a piece of meat without having to breed, feed and slaughter an entire animal. Cows, for example, have nowhere to graze on Mars, and, moreover, it is not known how a cow feels in weightlessness.
“Raising large animals for food in space is unthinkable,” the ESA said. According to the organization, half a gram of muscle tissue from a cow is enough to make about 80,000 hamburgers.
Developments on Earth can also help to produce enough food for the growing world population. The world now has almost 8 billion inhabitants. It is expected that by the end of the century, there will be nearly 11 billion people on Earth.
Breeding enough animals to feed all those mouths will lead to additional water consumption, pollution and deforestation, but it will also increase the risk of new virus outbreaks and pandemics, the ESA said.