NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Centre has been working with food technologists at the Swedish company on a development project of food products for advanced space exploration. According to the reports in the Swedish media this week, the five year project called Lacmos - milk for cosmos - aims at developing milk based products suitable in a space capsule.
Besides astronauts, there are markets like catastrophe aid and trekking as well as mass markets that could benefit from the research, said Carsten Hallund Slot, project manager at Arla Innovation.
In weightless conditions, astronauts are unable to drink milk in the conventional way but have to consume it through a straw. Because the fluid milk floats around in the stomach and affects appetite, Arla is currently looking at solid pieces, providing the same amount of nutrition and energy as ordinary milk.
According to reports from Sydsvenskan and Swedish Television, bone mass will play a significant role in the research as an astronaut loses 10 per cent of the bone mass during one year in space, a process which takes 50 years on earth. A return trip to Mars is expected to require 2.5 years - six months travelling and 1.5 years waiting for the right position of the planets to return.
The first fruits of the NASA-Arla partnership were divulged last year in March when Arla announced the launch of new products including four types of fresh yoghurt, a powder-based yoghurt and powder-based milk drinks in three flavours. In addition, the company developed a 'space chocolate' - a chocolate-covered protein bar with the equivalent nutritional value as a glass of full-fat milk. The bar contains proteins from Arla Foods Ingredients and was developed in collaboration with the Danish chocolate manufacturer, Toms.