Last Spring, NASA made headlines when it announced that its was granting a developer $125,000 to build a prototype 3-D food printer that would be able to create pizzas and other tasty food items. This is part of NASA’s larger effort to bring 3-D printing into space so that astronauts could meet their nutritional and supply needs on site.
And according to this most recent video, courtesy of Anjan Contractor, it seems that the project had begun to bear fruit. Contractor is the lead engineer behind the printer design, and was employed by NASA’s Systems & Materials Research Corporation to complete a printer that could provide astronauts a nutritious, comforting alternative to the canned and freeze-dried prepackaged foods they’re currently stuck with.
As you can see from the video, the machine does a pretty good job of creating a rectangular, margherita pizza – albeit with some minor spillage. And, according to Contractor, the device takes about 70 seconds to cook the pizza after the printer nozzles were finished laying down the liquid crust-precursor, followed by the tomato sauce and liquid cheese.
If NASA decides it wants to move ahead with the printer, it will still be many, many years before astronauts are eating 3-D printed pizza and other such delectables in space. But this proof of concept is a major step in that direction, and NASA is likely to see its project through to completion before attempting any long-range missions (such as to Mars).
After all, astronauts being in space for extended periods of time is the very reason alternatives are being contemplated in the first place. And in the meantime, check out this video of Contractor’s printer as it generates a pizza: