McGill team advances in Deep Space Food Challenge

Bioengineers’ wish to take crickets to the stars one step closer to a dream come true

Crickets feeding

A team led by two recent McGill bioengineering graduates, Alexander Becker and Cynthia Hitti, has made it through to the final phase of the Deep Space Food Challenge (DSFC) with their system for rearing crickets as a food source for long-haul space voyages.

The team will now face the challenge of developing a full-scale production version of their Cricket Rearing, Collection, and Transformation System (CRCTS) by the spring of 2024 as they compete against three other Canadian finalists for a grand prize of $380,000 in grant funding.

CRCTS was one of two McGill teams to make it to the semi-finals of the competition, which is a joint initiative of NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and Impact Canada. Starting with just a few hundred eggs, the technology is anticipated to support the growth of tens of thousands of crickets a month. The end-product is a finely-ground powder that can be combined with water to form a versatile, protein-packed ingredient.