While astronauts in space get to do many exciting things, they miss out on ordinary stuff that we all take for granted - being able to walk on firm ground, hanging out with family and . . . digging into a slice of hot steaming pizza. Though not much can be done about the first two, there may soon be a solution for the third one, thanks to this ultra-cool 3-D pizza printer!
About a year ago, NASA granted $125,000 USD to Anjan Contractor, a 3D technology expert, to build a device that would allow astronauts to make pizza on demand. The mechanical engineer at Austin, TX- based Systems & Materials Design Corporation, promised that his invention would churn out pies that looked, tasted and even smelled, like pizza made in conventional ovens.
Late last year, the engineer released a video of his first prototype that begins by creating a single layer of dough that is cooked and printed at the same time. Then comes the tomato 'sauce' - a mix of tomato powder, oil and water and finally, a protein layer that resembles cheese. While the video doesn't demonstrate the baking process, the inventor claims that once the pizza is printed, it can be ready to consume in a speedy quick 7 seconds.
While the pie in the video looks appetizing enough to tempt any pizza lover, Contractor is far from ready for astronauts. That's because he still has to find a solution to make the food cartridge last for 30 years. Though that may sound excessive, it is not, if humans are planning to go on long-distance space missions like Mars, which is one of the main reasons NASA is looking for innovative food solutions.
Contractor believes that the only way that is possible is if the moisture is removed from all the ingredients and they are reduced to powder form. This as you can imagine will be no easy feat. But, while the printer may not be ready for space, it certainly looks ready enough for people on earth - Hopefully, NASA and Contractor will consider selling it to those not fortunate enough to go to Mars!