Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Space Bioprocess Engineering on the Horizon

Version 1 : Received: 22 December 2021 / Approved: 24 December 2021 / Online: 24 December 2021 (10:59:10 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 24 December 2021 / Approved: 27 December 2021 / Online: 27 December 2021 (15:48:53 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Journal reference: Communications Engineering 2022, 1, 13
DOI: 10.1038/s44172-022-00012-9


Reinvigorated public interest in human space exploration has led to the need to address the science and engineering challenges described by NASA's Space Technology Grand Challenges (STGCs) for expanding the human presence in space. Here we define Space Bioprocess Engineering (SBE) as a multi-disciplinary approach to design, realize, and manage a biologically-driven space mission as it relates to addressing the STGCs for advancing technologies to support the nutritional, medical, and incidental material requirements that will sustain astronauts against the harsh conditions of interplanetary transit and habitation offworld. SBE combines synthetic biology and bioprocess engineering under extreme constraints to enable and sustain a biological presence in space. Here we argue that SBE is a critical strategic area enabling long-term human space exploration; specify the metrics and methods that guide SBE technology life-cycle and development; map an approach by which SBE technologies are matured on offworld testing platforms; and suggest a means to train the next generation spacefaring workforce on the SBE advantages and capabilities. In doing so, we outline aspects of the upcoming technical and policy hurdles to support space biomanufacturing and biotechnology. We outline a perspective marriage between space-based performance metrics and the synthetic biology Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle as they relate to advancing the readiness of SBE technologies. We call for a concerted effort to ensure the timely development of SBE to support long-term crewed missions using mission plans that are currently on the horizon.


space systems bioengineering; biomanufacturing; space bioprocess engineering; biotransformation human exploration; in situ resource utilization; life support systems; biomanufacturing; space policy


ENGINEERING, Biomedical & Chemical Engineering

Comments (0)

We encourage comments and feedback from a broad range of readers. See criteria for comments and our Diversity statement.

Leave a public comment
Send a private comment to the author(s)
Views 0
Downloads 0
Comments 0
Metrics 0

Notify me about updates to this article or when a peer-reviewed version is published.
We use cookies on our website to ensure you get the best experience.
Read more about our cookies here.