Bioprinting in Space

Space missions to Moon and Mars are nowadays considered the expected step in next human exploration programs. National and international space agencies are actively engaged to develop suitable plans and strategies to design long-term missions, but also private entrepreneurs are playing a relevant role to define their own technological roadmaps.

Obviously, the goal is to safely bring human beings to other planets and ensure a valuable level of their quality of life. This is a real demanding task as it is well-known that Space is a very harsh environment, exposing physiological systems to the negative role of reduced gravity, radiations and injuries related to mission activities. The crew should be thus considered as an autonomous and self-consistent unit capable to deal with all the possible drawbacks related to healthcare management. Considering that it will be not possible to allow a safe return to Earth in a reasonable time for those members with severe medical affections, a regenerative medicine approach and 3D bioprinting capabilities shall be necessarily implemented.

Several experiments have been carried out so far to assess the potential of this manufacturing technique, including possible limitations and drawbacks that have to be overcome. The European Space Agency is providing a number of key-points to be fully investigated towards an effective plan for a safe and reliable utilization of 3D bioprinting, being a long term enabling technology for planet exploration and colonisation. Cell samples have already been printed aboard the International Space Station and more refined protocols and printers are constantly evaluated.

The New Space Economy Expoforum will be the ideal venue to discuss issues and desired outcomes of this more than interesting topic. The most active players in the field will present their results and outline the technological programs to develop convincing guidelines for long-distance space exploration on 11 and 12 December online!