Space Synthetic Biology (SynBio)

As we extend our reach into space, there is a need to make missions more self-sustaining. Conducting long-duration lunar and Mars missions will require that we minimize the amounts of supplies launched, increase reuse and recycling, and use local resources to make crucial products for the crew.

The Space Synthetic Biology (SynBio) project located at NASA Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley is developing biomanufacturing methods that can produce high-value products on-demand such as vitamins or medicines. In addition, bio-manufacturing processes will allow crews to produce key materials from local resources.

SynBio launched the first batch of bio nutrient packs for a five-year systems demonstration to the ISS on April 2019. The BioNutrients demonstration will test a newly-developed in-space nutrient production platform that uses genetically-engineered baker’s yeast and an extended shelf-life growth substrate to produce specific antioxidants, such as beta carotene and zeaxanthin.

SynBio is also developing a platform technology that chemically converts CO2 and water to organic compounds that then “feed” microbial biomanufacturing systems to make a wide range of products such as food, medicines, and fuels.

These synthetic biology technologies will be a critical aspect of astronaut health and the sustainability of future NASA missions to the Moon and beyond.

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Terry Fong (Terry.Fong@nasa.gov) John Hogan (John.a.Hogan@nasa.gov)