NASA Centennial Challenges Deep Space Food Challenge Competition to Incentive Innovation in Food Systems for Long-Duration Space Exploration Missions



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


The Centennial Challenges (CC) program, currently part of NASA�s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), is one of the vehicles NASA uses to develop and execute public prize competitions. Since opening its first challenge in 2005, the CC program has initiated more than 20 challenges in a variety of technology areas. This paper provides the background, development and execution of the Deep Space Food Challenge as one approach to fulfilling NASA�s Space Policy Directive 1 (�To the Moon, then Mars�). Specifics about the CC program�s accomplishments will also be discussed.

The Deep Space Food Challenge (DSF) was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to create novel food production technologies with minimal inputs, maximum safe, nutritious, palatable food outputs for long-duration space missions, which have potential to benefit people on Earth.

When humans return to the lunar surface in the mid-2020s, the early missions will use prepackaged foods similar to those in use on the International Space Station (ISS) today. However, extending the duration of lunar missions requires reducing resupply dependency on Earth. Testing a sustainable system on the Moon that meets lunar crews� needs is a fundamental step for lunar sustainability and future Mars exploration. NASA and CSA are focused on how to furnish crew members with a viable food system for long duration space missions that provides all daily nutritional needs through a variety of palatable, safe food with limited resource requirements and no dependency on resupply from Earth; and enables acceptable, safe and quick preparation methods.

On Earth, technology solutions for food systems could also be used to produce nutritional sources for urban and rural environments; potentially leading to a reduced impact on our Earth�s resources. Challenges, such as the DSF, are an embodiment of NASA�s continuing commitment to technological advancement and innovation through non-traditional programs.


Monsi Roman, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Angela Herblet, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
James Broyan, NASA Johnson Space Center
Grace Douglas, NASA Johnson Space Center
Dawn Turner, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
ICES307: Collaboration, Education Outreach, and Public Engagement
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Space Exploration Missions, Crew Nutrition, Food Production, Food Systems, Collaboration, Public Prize Competition, Public Engagement