Team:LMSU/Human Practices

Big Picture

# 🥈 Human Practices

## Our Idea

We live in the age of rising space flights, nowadays more and more people starts to muse about far space. Many challenges have been already solved, but we still face plenty of unsolved problems. One of the most actual ones is food in space. What food should be produced? How should it be transported, in which form? 

Pondering about providing astronauts with nutrition we should acknowledge in which general conditions residence in space takes part. The greatest factor seems to be length of the flight. Under the long-term conditions of being on the great distance from earth astronauts face issues with food supplement, containing and delivery. Nowadays this problem has several ways of solution. For example ISS expeditions use mainly freeze-dried and radiation-sterilized food, which combines long-term storage, nutritional value, and low weight. However, delivery of food products to the station can be too expensive, because of large launch mass of supplies, and therefore renewable nutrition sources for astronauts are being developed for long-distance space missions. These sources should have such qualities as: safety, nutritional value, ease of obtaining, reliability and stability, have a pleasant taste and appearance. On long space travels, it is also important to diversify the diet of the crew. This set of requirements makes it difficult to find suitable food supplies.

Given the increasing possibilities of short- and long-term space travels, it is essential not only to design nutritious foods but also to make eating an enjoyable experience. Space food design focuses on the functional and nutritional aspects of food, not on the human experience of eating in space. In spite of seeming unimportance of problem aspects related to taste, it was shown that taste is essential for psychological and then physical condition of the crew. 

There are plenty ways of long space residence food supplement problem solutions, for example growing plants right on the board, but inspite of all its properties it has several disadvantages. Research is currently underway to grow edible plants in space to feed astronauts. However, the plants are not very suitable for growing in space: low gravity means water distribution is difficult to manage, the roots are often starved of oxygen, and stagnant air reduces evaporation and increases the leaf temperature. Therefore, it is convenient to use microalgae as a renewable food source. Microalgae are capable of synthesizing proteins, fats, sugars and vitamins in the light from carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water. It is convenient to grow them in a spaceship and can be used as a food supplement.

Another solution is to grow hydrogen oxidizing bacteria, this project proposes to use CO2 produced by human metabolism as the source of carbon and water electrolysis as a source of hydrogen. This way of producing amino acids and proteins onboard is cheap and convenient, but it has nothing to deal with the lack of bacterial vitamin production and another essential chemicals for the human nutrition. But fusing this project with microalgae typed sources can make it possible. 

Another problem which astronauts face is food preparation. Under low and absent gravity conditions usual actions like cutting, heating and another food processing is very problematic. NASA is trying to find any ways to make it easier and more convinient, one of the found ways is usage of 3D printers. 3D printing is very perspective technology because of its mostly boundless applications in technology and biotehcnology. First attempt of NASA was printer that could make small ship parts directly on the board. Further development showed the ability of food printing. By now scientists related to cosmic agencies managed to print and cook pizza and steak from processed meat. 

So as it was said, problem of making the system which would suit for the purpose of long-lasted space flights is still unsolved. We offer a flexible solution which is usable for many different objectives.

Over the years, it becomes more and more obvious that since it is normal for the human psyche to eat microorganisms, then this should be used. Microalgae are modest to cultivate, so they can be grown anywhere with the condition of access to the power grid.

## Human Practices Consultations

Throughout our iGEM journey, we received help from multiple specialists. Without their contributions, ASCEND project would not ascend! Getting in touch with scientists, cosmonauts, engineers, and Arctic researchers enriched our project with ideas and resolved our questions. Conducting a cutting-the-edge research project can be only performed with the cooperation of diverse professionals. Here we would like to acknowledge our interactions with them.

### March 2021

- **Dr. Maxim Dyakov** was one of the first people we talked about the possibility of using modified spirulina as a nutrition source in space. He is a specialist in multifarious areas: technology, geology, geophysics, coding, and, of course, algae. He thought that our idea was promising and encouraged us to start working on ASCEND project.
- The President of the Institute of Plant Physiology of the Russian Academy of Science **Prof. Dmitry A. Los** gave us some crucial advice. He is a leading specialist in algal research and we had an amazing chance to discuss our project perspectives and ways of working with algae with him. He emphasised, that *Arthrospira platensis* is definitely the perfect candidate for our final purpose as food source. However, he also warned us that transformation of spirulina is challenging and we might not succeed in this goal this year.

### April 2021

Cosmonauts and astronauts will be the largest consumers of our product. Therefore, we must design our tasty algae based on their needs. This is why we asked a Russian cosmonaut **Sergey Ryazanskiy** to answer our questions on the qualities of space nutrition and possible aspects to improve it on. Sergey is also the first scientist who served as a spacecraft commander and he is an alumnus of Lomonosov Moscow State University! The interview he kindly gave us clarified the aspects we should focus on to make the product most suitable for space travellers. He also proved our assumption, that it is vital to supply astronauts with variety of food tastes, as long-term monotonous diet in microgravity conditions causes psychological malfunctions and weakening of taste.

- One of the important parts of any iGEM project is that the team has to find funding. This is not an easy step that requires skills and experience. **Alexey Barykin** from GRT Consulting gave us some valuable advice on how to find investors, how to present the project to investors, and how to persuade them to invest in the project. 

### May 2021

To find out more about constructing bioreactors, we contacted one of the leading researchers and science populizers in this area – **Dr. Alexandr Shayenko**. Dr. Shayenko is working at Success Rockets company and knows everything about the commercial side of space projects too! He provided us with many insights on the parameters we will need to consider when modeling and constructing a bioreactor and on how to organize crowdfunding most efficiently.


### June 2021

A leading LMSU scholar **Dr. Denis Nalobin** specialises in developing biotechnological projects. It was truly helpful for us that we had an opportunity to discuss biotechnological markets with him. According to Dr. Nalobin, currently, the vast majority of the biotechnological market is inclined to medical research and products, and that there is just a small part of the market focused on nutrition. Thus, our project will be prospective as it will highlight problems that are being neglected but are, nevertheless, absolutely important.

### July 2021

**Nikolay Lomov** is a PhD student at LMSU Department of molecular biology and an aspiring researcher. We consulted with him to get some advice on the tools of gene editing we could use. Eventually, his insight on using integrase was extremely helpful. We believe, that as a team you should not hesitate to seek help from professionals when needed!

### August 2021

- **Mikhail Tereshin**, PhD Biological Sciences, is an employee at Pilot Biotechnological Facility of IBCh RAS and the winner of the international biological tournament. We contacted him for advice on increasing the production of *Arthrospira* protein, and also discussed possible directions of the development of the project that are applicable in the biotechnology industry. He proposed methods of enhancing the production of protein and the adequate method of extraction.

### September 2021

One of the important parts of any iGEM project is that the team has to find funding. This is not an easy step that requires skills and experience. **Alexey Barykin** from GRT Consulting gave us some valuable advice on how to find investors, how to present the project to investors, and how to persuade them to invest in the project. 

### October 2021

Another implementation of our project is Arctic and Antarctic research and other long-term expeditions in remote areas. Delivering food supplies to isolated areas in harsh weather conditions has always been arduous. To create a well-fitting product we need to know the needs of its future consumers. Therefore, we talked to **Artemy Sukhanov** – an Arctic researcher and LMSU Biotechnology Master’s Program student. He explained the conditions of an arctic expedition and the struggles they had with food supplies, including the poor taste of the latter. Artemy expressed excitement about ASCEND project and encouraged us.