Canadian Space Agency

Deep Space Food Challenge

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Semi-finalists

Organization
Project name and description

Canacompost Systems

The Outpost: Space Composting With Black Soldier Flies

For long duration missions in space, food recycling is a mission-critical problem. Our technology uses black soldier fly (BSF) larvae and microbiota to compost organic material within an automated system, producing nutrient-rich compost, animal protein, fertile insect excrement, heat, and carbon dioxide. These outputs can be utilized within other food-producing systems: the compost and frass as fertilizer, the heat and carbon dioxide within the plant-growing process, and the insects for livestock (or human) consumption.

McGill University / McGill Advanced bio-Regenerative Toolkit for Long Excursion Trips (MARTLET)

Cricket Rearing, Collection, and Transformation System

The Cricket Rearing, Collection, and Transformation System (CRCTS) is designed to be a protein source for astronauts and humans in remote environments on Earth by growing and harvesting protein-rich crickets in a first-of-its-kind controlled environment. Starting with nothing but a few hundred eggs, the CRCTS can quickly support the growth of tens of thousands of crickets every month. The CRCTS uses advanced filters, UVC lamps, and vacuum systems to completely isolate the crickets from the human living environment, ensuring minimal contamination risk throughout all system operations.

McGill University / McGill Advanced bio-Regenerative Toolkit for Long Excursion Trips (MARTLET)

InSpira Photobioreactor

InSpira PBR - part of YOUR Green Revolution. The InSpira PBR is novel and modular 6-vessel photobioreactor i.e. a bioreactor with an embedded light source to cultivate microalgae in cartridge vessels. It is coupled with a harvesting and processing unit to transform the culture output into an edible gel that can be consumed as-is or used as a flavouring and dietary supplement when added onto other food products. It will allow operators to produce food in harsh environmental conditions, both in outer space and on earth while minimizing space usage, energy inputs, and skills required.

AlgaBloom International Ltd.

A Programmable Microalgae Cultivation Platform for Sustainable Food Production in Space

The AlgaSpace cultivation system harnesses the power of microalgae to deliver a sustainable nutrient-rich food supply. It leverages biofilm-based growth for high-density, low-water cultivation of a programmable microalgae to produce foods with different nutrient profiles, flavours and textures including smoothies, pastes, pastas and flakes. The platform not only produces a nutritious food supply but it can also use waste from urination, digestion and respiration as feedstocks for bioproduction thereby closing a sustainability loop necessary for prolonged travel or operations in space.

University of Waterloo

Hydrogel Photobioreactors for Cultivation of Food and Life Support

The algae rack system is used to cultivate highly nutritional microalgae for human consumption. It minimizes water and energy usage through its innovative design.

Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc.

CANGrow Modular Indoor Food Production System

CANGrow is a novel modular polyculture indoor food production system that will enable long term space exploration. The CANGrow system incorporates novel technologies in order to offer the widest possible variety of foods with optimal yield. It grows a diversity of biologically efficient food products: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, two root vegetables, microgreens, four unique culinary herbs, mini-head lettuce, an algae superfood, and a mycelial meat substitute - “space bacon”. The technology has the potential to provide over 500kg of nutrient dense food annually.

University of Guelph

Canada – Growth Options for Outer Space Environments (GOOSE)

The “Canada GOOSE” is a controlled environment plant growth chamber designed to push the boundaries of high-density crop production yielding a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms complete with power and water supply. Exploiting uniquely Canadian controlled environment technology and expertise, this design innovates ways to achieve homogeneous conditions within a high-density production system. While meant to address the supply of fresh nutritious food for astronauts, the chamber could be installed in remote areas or harsh environments to improve food security around the world.

PeaPod Technologies Inc.

PeaPod

PeaPod is a precision-automated plant growth environment for low-maintenance modular food production and distributed research. PeaPod is able to generate any desired environment to grow any crop, while collecting data on plant growth to optimize food products over time via machine learning. The insulated growth environment is extendable and modular, and is easily adapted to suit plant selection and mission requirements. PeaPod uses a set of automated control systems to generate the desired environment, including air thermoregulation, humidification, dehumidification, lighting, and aeroponics.

Noblegen Inc.

SEuPS – Space Euglena Production System

We will use safe microbes to up-cycle human waste into feedstock for our platform organism Euglena gracilis. Euglena is a robust organism with an amazing nutrient profile that we are already using on earth in future food applications. Our solution is ideal because microbes have an ability to break-down human waste into feedstocks that can be transformed into food using Euglena. We will maximize our efficiency by taking advantage of Euglena’s photosynthetic capacity, and growing microbes in energy efficient bioreactors monitored and controlled by an autonomous AI system.

Concordia University

AstroYeast Microfarm: Space-adapted Nutrient and Flavour Factory

Our food technology is centered around a yeast strain that is specially adapted to the space environment (AstroYeast). The yeast acts as a chassis to produce the nutrients crew members will need for their long voyage to our celestial neighbours, combined with flavour molecules that enhance the dining experience. The production of these nutrients and flavour molecules is performed in an automated and optimized bioreactor system. The end product is a delicious and nutritious yeast spread which can be safely consumed.

Challenge details

Who can apply?

  • Businesses or other for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Not-for-profit organizations in Canada;
  • Indigenous organizations and groups located in Canada;
  • Post-secondary/academic institutions located in Canada; and
  • Individuals or groups of individuals based in Canada.

Individuals or groups of individuals are encouraged to submit an application to the challenge, but in order to be eligible to receive prizes, they will be required to establish a Canadian legal entity (such as a corporation or a not-for-profit organization) capable of entering into binding agreements in Canada.

Key Dates

  • Phase 1 – Design Report Deadline: July 30, 2021
  • Up to 10 Semi-Finalists Announced: Fall 2021
  • Phase 2 – Kitchen Demonstration Deadline: Summer 2022
  • Up to 4 Finalists Announced: Fall 2022
  • Phase 3 – Full System Demonstration Deadline: Late Fall 2023/Early Winter 2024
  • Canadian Grand Prize Winner Announced: Spring 2024

Prizes

  • Up to 10 Prizes of CAD $30,000 open to all eligible innovators submitting a Phase 1 concept application.
  • Up to 4 Prizes of CAD $100,000 open to all Semi-Finalists participating in Phase 2.
  • Grand Prize of CAD $380,000 open to all Finalists participating in Phase 3.

Note: The number of winners and prize amounts may vary depending on the applications received. For each phase, prize amounts will not be less than the amount per winner indicated above.