Nebula Public Library

The knowledge bank of ESA’s R&D programmes

3D Printing of Living Tissues for Space Exploration

Programme Reference
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End Date
3D Printing of Living Tissues for Space Exploration

Human exploratory missions to the Moon or Mars are widely considered as the next logical steps in human space exploration and, lately, settlement. Such space exploration or settlement activities involve humans spending long periods of time in space and, with increasing distance from Earth, no abort possibilities. Crews on such missions have to be self- sufficient, not only concerning food, drink and waste, but also with respect to medical treatment. Health issues are raised by the environmental conditions in space, such as the influence of altered gravity, radiation and isolation. In addition the health risks of illness or injury humans face on Earth are also present in space.

However, in the case of long distance travel the medical infrastructure on Earth is not accessible. In order to protect human lives and health, such space exploration missions have to consider onboard medical infrastructure, so that medical treatment of a wide range of health issues can be provided. A promising technology which can provide support in medical treatment and improves the autonomous functionality of the medical structure is 3D-bioprinting. By printing skin, bones, organs or cartilage parts, this medical treatment could offer an important contribution to medical infrastructure in space.

Technology Domain
Executive summary