In a recent report published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface they address the issue of manned space travel from multiple perspectives, including the necessary fuel, food or medicine involved in such an aspiring undertaking.
Based on their recent success in bio manufacturing a new cheap synthetic drug having the same efficiency against malaria as existing medicine, the researchers went on to put forth even bolder theories. They emphasize that synthetic biology is a very clean and sustainable source of energy , potentially convertible into food and fuel, easy to carry and use throughout a manned cosmic journey.
Even to get to our closest neighbor planet, Mars, the astronauts would need at least 1 year for the round trip , let alone the additional time spent on the red planet. All in all, this would account for a huge amount of fuel, not to mention the food and medicine. While all the cost of these resources is already an obstacle, their volume also threats a potentially successful deployment and outcome of a manned space mission.
But now, Adam Arkin, author of the paper, thinks this could all change as his branch of science – synthetic biology, can provide astronauts with fuel, food and medicine produced on the go, during the spaceflight.
“During flight, the ability to augment fuel and other energy needs, to provide small amounts of needed materials, plus renewable, nutritional and taste-engineered food, and drugs-on-demand can save costs and increase astronaut health and welfare", argued Arkin