To Boldly Go Where No Biomanufacturing Has Gone Before
(Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News) … But mass-efficient payloads should be possible, insist researchers at the University of California, provided space explorers make use of nontraditional biological techniques. In particular, these researchers say synthetic biology should give space missions a boost.
The researchers published a techno-economic analysis that appeared online in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The analysis—“Towards synthetic biological approaches to resource utilization on space missions”—makes the case that synthetic biology “is capable of processing volatiles and waste resources readily available on lunar and Martian space missions in a way that, when compared with anticipated nonbiological approaches, reduces the launch mass of propellants, food, and raw material for three-dimensional printing, and also overcomes the decreased product shelf-life of a common therapeutic.”
Envisioning a 916-day mission to Mars, the authors of the study considered the ways synthetic biology could trim the cargo manifest: “It is determined that 205 days of high-quality methane and oxygen Mars bioproduction with Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum can reduce the mass of a Martian fuel-manufacture plant by 56%; … READ MORE Abstract