Tuesday, September 26, 2023

A startup is building an incubator to conceive babies in space

From ESA to NASA to billionaires like Elon Musk, more and more people are imagining a future in which thousands of people would live on Mars. And that requires, among other things, a self-sustaining human population. A prerequisite for this is the extraterrestrial birth of humans. With this in mind, a startup has developed an in vitro fertilization system to create babies in space. But it’s not easy.

First, scientists need to figure out whether and how humans can reproduce in a hostile space environment, bombarded with harmful radiation, without gravity, and without important resources.

SpaceBorn United is a startup based in the Netherlands that has been exploring this idea for years. The company “explores and enables various stages of human reproduction in space, enabling independent human settlements beyond Earth,” its website says.

One of its most recent advances is the development of a small in vitro fertilization (IVF) device and embryo incubator that the company plans to launch into space. The prototype is the size of a CD player and will use microfluidics technology for IVF. Inside, the system rotates to simulate the effects of gravity on Earth.

Prototype Of The Incubator That Was To Be Launched Into Space
Prototype of the incubator to be launched into spaceSpace Born UnitedSpace Born United

The company intends to begin experiments at the cellular level with mammalian cells and then with human cells in space. The experiment will evaluate several key tactics to facilitate reproduction in space.

“If we want to have human settlements on Mars, for example, and if we want these settlements to be truly independent, we have to solve the challenge of reproduction,” explains Egbert Edelbroek, CEO of SpaceBorn United, in an interview. To achieve this goal, the company is preparing to launch a series of space experiments as part of the ARTIS mission, which stands for Assisted Reproduction Technology in Space.

The missions are scheduled to start within the next five years. The first experiments are being carried out with mouse cells. For these tests, embryos are transplanted into a natural uterus, and the subsequent stages of pregnancy and birth take place on Earth. If these missions go as planned, the next initiative could include experiments with human stem cell embryos.

World Nation News Desk
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