You may one day be able to eat burgers grown in space.
Aleph Farms, an Israeli food company that engineers beef steaks from cow cells, announced Monday it had successfully grown meat on the International Space Station for the first time — a step forward in the company’s goal to create slaughter-free eco-friendly meat.
Here’s how it works: researchers take cells from a cow, give them nutrients, and put them in an environment mimicking the inside of a cow’s body. The cells then multiply and grow connective muscle tissue — eventually becoming a full-sized steak.
Aleph Farms collaborated with a Russian bioprinting company to successfully carry out the process on September 26. They assembled “a small-scale muscle tissue in a 3D bioprinter developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, under microgravity conditions,” Aleph Farms said in a press release.
“This cutting-edge research in some of the most extreme environments imaginable serves as an essential growth indicator of sustainable food production methods that don’t exacerbate land waste, water waste, and pollution,” the release said.
The space-grown meat could help feed astronauts during long-term manned space missions, as well as address food insecurity among a booming population down on Earth, according to a statement from 3D Bioprinting Solutions.
Aleph Farms’ products aren’t commercially available yet — but they will likely be ready for the market in three or four years, according to the company.