The First Product in a Zero-Gravity of the Universe
Space experts pointed out that artificial meat (culture), artificial organs, alloys and fiber optics will most likely be number one.
The IEEE magazine, a technical magazine published by the Institute of Electronics and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), selected four of the first space plant product candidates and released them on the 26th of last month. Currently, the International Space Station (ISS), which travels around the earth every 400 hours, serves as the “gateway” between the universe and the earth. There is little gravity at this altitude. It’s called “microgravity”. In this state, cells, microorganisms, and various materials often move under conditions different from those on the ground where gravity is strong. In many cases, it is easy to make various materials and biomaterials that cannot be made or difficult to make on the ground. Experts are using these conditions to explore the possibility of using the ISS as a space factory soon to complete its work as a space station.
The most prominent is by far artificial meat. Already in October, Israeli startup Aleph Palms took a bioprinter from Russia’s startup 3D bioprinting solution to the ISS and successfully printed a cell and cultured it with meat. In the first experiment, muscle cells were cultured, and blood and fat cells could be cultured. The goal is to combine them properly to make patties for hamburgers and more.
With a little application of technology to make cultured meat, developing artificial organs is easier in space than on earth. It is very tricky to make organs with complex structures such as the heart with 3D printers on the ground. The 3D bioprinter creates a structure like a brick brick made of gel by spraying bio ink containing stem cells. When creating a hollow room-like structure and tube, the gravity of the earth causes it to slide down and collapse. At low gravity ISS this is not a concern. In July, US startup Techshot and NASA conducted an experiment at ISS that actually made heart muscle into some 3D printer. In the next experiment, we plan to bring the created tissue to the ground and test its properties.
Next-generation optical fiber, which will replace silica-used fiber widely used on earth, is also the number one product in space factory. This next-generation fiber is fluoride-coated glass with a low optical signal loss rate that is one tenth that of conventional fiber. This product is also difficult to manufacture on the ground. Fiber optics make glass thin and elongated. On the ground, crystals form in partial glass, weakening the signal. This problem disappears in low gravity environments. Several companies, including the US-made “Space,” are testing the technology.
The last is the alloy. Two or more metals that do not mix well on the ground mix well under microgravity conditions. Experts expect this to be a useful alloy with new properties. For example, a magnesium alloy could be developed in space to replace titanium, which is now widely used in biomaterials. Magnesium alloys are expected to be lighter than titanium alloys and have bone-like strength.