Thanks to White Castle, Burger King, Dunkin’, and Subway, consumers have been thinking beyond meat (or perhaps Beyond Meat?) lately. One startup wants us to think beyond the planet, too. Aleph Farms, the company that claims title to growing the world’s first lab-grown steak, has taken “one small step” on its journey to make a giant leap toward the future of food—by hitching a ride to the International Space Station and making lab-grown meat, 248 miles away from any natural resources.
Thanks to an international collaboration, Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions teamed up with the U.S.-based Meal Source Technologies and Finless Foods, along with the Israel-based Aleph Farms, which will grow meat in space.
The company, which creates steaks from animal cells, was able to successfully assemble a small-scale bit of muscle tissue in a 3D bioprinter under microgravity conditions, proving its concept that meat can be created in a space lab in even the most extreme of environments.
Back on Earth, Aleph Farms’ lab meat could be a sustainable food source to feed a rapidly growing population, with a much smaller impact on the planet than traditional meat. Lab-grown steak requires less water and less land, and there’s no need to cut down the Amazon as compared to cow-made beef. Plus, if Aleph Farms can get its meat growing in space, it could keep Jeff Bezos and his moon colony eating sirloin instead of rehydrated spaghetti.
Update: An earlier version of this story used the term “fake meat,” which Aleph Farms said does not apply to its product. Its “cultivated meat” has the same building blocks, nutritional value, appearance, and taste of slaughtered meat.