NASA wants astronauts to have 3D printed pizza, and this startup is building a printer to make it happen

An Austin, Texas company, whose founders were commissioned by NASA to develop palatable foods for astronauts’ deep space mission to Mars, has built a device that can 3D-print pizza.

The company –known as BeeHex— boasts that its machine is efficient, clean, and capable of churning out a delicious pizza in less than half the time it takes a typical human chef. The tech is being developed for astronauts, but since NASA’s manned mission to the Red Planet isn’t planned until the 2030s, us Earthbound eaters may be able to enjoy a 3D-printed pizza at theme parks, shopping malls, or concert halls by early 2017.

Almost everyone eats pizza, but few of our tastebuds are exactly the same. I like anchovies and pineapples, whereas my partner prefers a simple margherita. To suit our varied tastes, the BeeHex printer connects to a computer that instructs it to use a certain dough, sauce, and cheese combination, which customers can select through a BeeHex app or at the counter of a kiosk. And, for the especially particular among us, BeeHex can even customize the pizza’s shape by analyzing a .jpg file, which will surely keep astronauts entertained on their long haul to Mars.

Like all 3D printers, BeeHex applies ink, layer-by-layer, to make it’s creations. The obvious difference with BeeHex is that, in this case, the “ink” is edible. First, it starts with the size of the pie, which Tech Insider reports can be either 10 or 12 inches. Next, you select either plain, tomato, or gluten-free dough. Then comes the tomato-basil, pesto, or vodka sauce. Finally, mozzarella or burrata cheese top off the pie before it’s slid into a 400 degree pizza oven by the sole person manning the machine.

One of NASA’s priorities is to bring aspects of life on Earth into deep space, where astronauts are otherwise left suspended in a cold and unfamiliar environment. For NASA, the psychological benefits of its astronauts feeling at home is well-worth the investment. BeeHex may first appear at venues near you but, up in space, the technology will offer astronauts the memorable tastes of home – that sure beats conventional space food.

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