Sago worm billed as astronaut food

Sago worm billed as astronaut food

Thailand's Keeta team has qualified for the final of Nasa's Deep Space Food Challenge. They are competing to develop space food for astronauts to survive on for three years without having to replenish supplies from Earth. (Photo: National News Bureau of Thailand)
Thailand's Keeta team has qualified for the final of Nasa's Deep Space Food Challenge. They are competing to develop space food for astronauts to survive on for three years without having to replenish supplies from Earth. (Photo: National News Bureau of Thailand)

Thai aerospace engineers have entered the second phase of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) competition by proposing Thai food wisdom -- in the form of the sago worm -- to feed future astronauts during long-duration space voyages, according to the Public Relations Department.

The sago worm is the larva of Rhynchophorus ferrugineus, which is found in sago palm trunk. It is a staple food in the southern part of Thailand.

Thailand is represented in the competition by the Keeta team, a cooperation of aerospace engineers from Chulabhorn Royal Academy, Chulalongkorn University, Valaya Alongkorn Rajabhat University, and other private sector bodies.

As one of the 10 top-scoring teams worldwide, the team were the only Asian representatives invited to participate in phase 2 of the "Deep Space Challenge", an international competition organised by Nasa in partnership with the Canadian Space Administration (CSA) and the Methuselah Foundation.

The organisers are looking for novel and game-changing food technologies or systems that require minimal resources, produce negligible waste, and maximise safe, nutritious, and portable food output for long-duration space missions.

The sago worm can create a reliable food production system for a long-term mission of up to three years without any resupply from Earth. The worm is rich in protein and fat and is ideal for human consumption. They can also be raised in an enclosed environment and are easy to harvest and maintain over long periods.

The Keeta team is currently endeavouring to move into the next phase of the competition and will be ready for an inspection by the Nasa team early next year.


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