During the Rakia mission, the space research team of Aleph Farms will be looking into the effects of microgravity on two basic processes responsible for muscle tissue formation. These processes include proliferation and differentiation of cow cells into the building blocks of our steak.
Once the required number of Aleph Farms‘ cow cells is reached, they will be loaded into SpacePharma’s ICE Cubes (SPIC) system. This system, developed by SpacePharma, integrates and automates laboratory techniques to grow cells in a microfluidic device, called a Lab-on-a-Chip. It contains multiple pumps, valves and waste reservoirs that automatically replace the growth medium, a nutrient-rich feed, that helps the cells grow and mature into the cells that build the muscle tissue.
After the SpacePharma’s SPIC system is loaded with the Aleph Farms’ cow cells, it will be launched on the first ever fully commercial mission to the ISS Axiom-1 for a 10-day mission. Eytan Stibbe – the second Israeli to orbit and the first to fly to the International Space Station – as part of the Axiom-1 crew will transfer the SpacePharma Lab-on-a-Chip device into the ICE Cubes platform, and connect it to electric power and monitoring systems. The ICE Cubes platform enables the Aleph Farms team on the ground for real-time interaction capability based on the data and images coming from the Lab-on-a-Chip device.
Understanding processes in such an extreme environment like space, will allow Aleph Farms to eventually develop an automated, closed-loop system that can produce steaks during long-term space missions. Similarly to car manufacturers and Formula One, in space the most efficient processes are being developed under the toughest environments. The processes being validated in space can then be transferred to their mainstream production on Earth to help increase efficiencies, and reduce environmental footprint. Aleph Farms’ space program targets to help develop more sustainable and resilient food systems anywhere.