We present AstroYeast Microfarm: a space-adapted nutrient and flavour factory. This system is a compact and easy-to-use system which cultures a renewable source of food. Our system is analogous to an at-home hydroponic garden, but in space for growing small molecules such as nutrients, medicine or plastics through bioproduction vis yeast.
The system consists of two components. The first is the AstroYeast, which are microgravity-stress tolerant strains of baker's yeast and are genetically engineered to produce nutrient and flavour molecules in space. Our AstroYeast chassis is a minimal and renewable system, as freeze-dried or frozen cells can be cultured to produce more cells and nutrients when needed with the additional benefit of having terrestrial applications for places with limited resources.
The second is the Microfarm, a bioreactor tailored specifically to cellular growth. Our Microfarm is designed to be automated, sustainable, and easy-to-use for the operator. An oxygenator is used to minimize the air input required to sustain the production and the water used is recycled. The Microfarm operates at the optimal conditions for yeast growth to maximize output.
The crew would seed the Microfarm with AstroYeast and grow the yeast over the period of a week in the bioreactor. The products are then harvested and transformed into a yeast spread for not only a nutritious, but also a safe and delicious food source. The AstroYeast Microfarm is therefore a novel, sustainable, and innovative way of meeting the nutritional needs of the crew.
The AstroYeast Microfarm 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, such as limonene, 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 and sustainably produced! Additionally, seeing as one of our goals is to provide a chassis for bioproduction in space, other molecules can be produced too such as plastics and pharmaceuticals.