To Boldly Go Where No Biomanufacturing Has Gone Before

November 10, 2014 5:40 AM

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To Boldly Go Where No Biomanufacturing Has Gone Before

Before humankind can explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and new civilizations, it will have to deal with a weighty down-to-earth constraint: launchpad economics. Every unit of mass of payload that launched into space requires the support of an additional 99 units of mass, with “support” encompassing everything from fuel to oxygen to food and medicine for the astronauts. But mass-efficient payloads should be possible, insist researchers at the University of California, provided space explorers make use of nontraditional biological techniques. In particular, these researchers say synthetic biology should give space missions a boost.

The researchers published a techno-economic analysis that appeared online in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. The analysis—“Towards synthetic biological approaches to resource utilization on space missions”—makes the case that synthetic biology “is capable of processing volatiles and wast...

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