DARPA Picks 3 University Teams for Program to Explore Space-Based Biomanufacturing

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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected three university teams to help tackle a program that seeks to mitigate risks associated with biomanufacturing in space.

Groups of researchers from the University of Florida, University of Texas at Austin and Washington University in St. Louis will work on DARPA’s Biomanufacturing: Survival, Utility and Reliability beyond Earth program, the agency said Tuesday.

The team from University of Florida will collaborate with Rhodium Scientific and subcontractors from NASA’s Ames Research Center, University of California in Berkeley and University of Delaware on a project to collect data and assess the performance of biomanufactured microorganisms in space’s low gravity conditions.

The University of Texas at Austin will partner with Signature Science, University of Washington and University of Wisconsin-Madison to study the effects of different levels of radiation and species on the production of microbial molecules.

Washington University will team up with researchers from NASA’s Ames Research Center and North Carolina State University to identify alternative feedstocks that can be given to host organizations.

DARPA will announce the fourth team for the B-SURE program by early summer.

There is a critical Department of Defense (DoD) need for the continued development and future expansion of orbital manufacturing to enable and ensure supply chain resiliency, sustained technological superiority, and asset security and repair for current and future operations,” said Anne Cheever, B-SURE program manager at DARPA.

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