Goal & objectives
What is SpaceBakery?
SpaceBakery is a closed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery that will aid the long-term survival of settlers on Mars in addition to being applicable for modern agriculture on Earth. The SpaceBakery project is an interdisciplinary cooperative research project between 7 Belgian partners.
Start date: January 1, 2020
Duration: 33 months
What are the 6 objectives?
The consortium is investigating how to further improve the environmental footprint of growing wheat and the efficient use of energy to produce bread today – and also tomorrow in more challenging environments – while never compromising on nutritional, healthy and tasty foods.
- Hardware - closed production system
- Efficient crop production
- Recycling and use of resources
- Monitoring of microbial climate
- Healthy and nutritional staple food
Preparing for next phase:
- Pollination within closed system
These findings will be showcased at a closing dissemination event.
What does the SpaceBakery look like?
The environment of Mars, is very different from ours. No oxygen, high concentrations of carbon dioxide, an average daily temperature of -60°C, and dust storms are not the right conditions to grow crops or bake bread. So we are investigating how to efficiently cultivate grains in hermetically closed and fully controlled environments, In practice, our research is taking place in four coupled containers, located in Groot-Bijgaarden, in which the climate can be adapted to make it suitable for crop growth, with optimal use of resources. Here’s an overview of what’s happening in each container:
- Researchers enter the closed environment through the Clean Room and get changed into a special outfit to minimize contamination from the outside.
- In the Vertical Farm, wheat is growing on racks.
- In the Mars Bakery, the wheat is processed into flour. Dough is leavened through natural fermentation and bread is baked and evaluated.
- In the fourth container (soon to be added) other plants will be grown that could be included in bread and that are nutritionally complementary to wheat.
Sourdough bread: the staff of life?
The SpaceBakery consortium is creating a closed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery that can provide the first settlers on Mars with sourdough bread as well as generate insights into sustainable and nutritious food production on Earth. To develop the ideal sourdough bread for settlers on Mars, and at the same time tackle the challenges that come along with the environment, the research team is focusing on how agronomic conditions impact grain characteristics and derived products such as flour and sourdough bread.
As an alternative to baker’s yeast we will use sourdough, a natural fermentation technology, to improve the bioavailability of nutrients, the digestibility and the sensorial perception of whole wheat bread applications. We will search for crops that can complement wheat-based products to balance the nutritional content and protein profile to create applications in line with our daily needs regarding proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals and vitamins.
Why is this research project important?
The SpaceBakery project prioritises sustainability, health and the efficient use of resources, providing solutions that will be extremely relevant for space technology tomorrow and here on Earth today.