Jury announced for the Deep Space Food Challenge

The Deep Space Food Challenge jury has been selected. Credit: Impact Canada.

The jury has been selected in what could be one of the most enjoyable tasks related to deep space exploration, testing food for the Deep Space Food Challenge.

As someone who has participated in a NASA food survey on an expedition in the high arctic, I can attest that it can be an enjoyable experience, for the most part. Not all food designed for astronauts passed the test in my experience. The Deep Space Food Challenge however is a slightly different exercise in searching for tasty nutritious dishes.

The Deep Space Food Challenge is the first NASA and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) Centennial Challenge. It also includes other partners, and in Canada is organized through Impact Canada, a government program introduced in 2017 as a “Canada-wide effort that will help departments accelerate the adoption of innovative funding approaches to deliver meaningful results to Canadians.” The Deep Space Food Challenge not only targets astronauts, but also people living in challenging environments on Earth, including Canada’s north.

The Deep Space Food Challenge is accepting design concepts until July 30, 2021. Applying to the Deep Space Food Challenge will kick off a three-year journey to compete for $30,000 in grant funding and the opportunity to become a semi-finalist, through stages such as testing a prototype in a kitchen-level demonstration and building a full system demonstration. The grand prize winner, announced in spring 2024, will receive $380,000 in grant funding. Latter-stage participants may also receive “other non-monetary benefits,” according to the challenge website.

This week Impact Canada revealed the jury. In selecting the Jury Impact Canada said in a Tweet “the judging panel members are external to government and present independent assessments and views based on their respective knowledge and expertise.”

The jury includes:

  • Tom Graham (Co-Chair) – Assistant Professor and PhytoGro Research Chair in Controlled Environment System, School of Environmental Sciences, Ontario Agricultural College – University of Guelph.
  • Chris Hadfield (Co-Chair) – Astronaut, First Canadian Commander of the International Space Station.
  • Lynn Blackwood – Policy Analyst-Food Security, Department of Health and Social Development – Nunatsiavut Government.
  • Lynn Crawford – Celebrity Chef, Author, Restaurateur, Canadian Food Ambassador.
  • Lawrence Goodwridge – Leung Family Professor of Food Safety & Director, Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety, Department of Food Science, Ontario Agricultural College – University of Guelph.
  • Jas Jaaj – Managing Partner, AI and Data – Deloitte.
  • Chantal Langlois – Kitikmeot Regional Clinical Dietitian for the Nunavut Department of Health.
  • Frank Leffelaar – Agri-food Tech Strategy & Growth Advisor, Mentor, Angel & Impact Investor, Founder – Crush Marketing.
  • Lucie Poulet – NASA Postdoctoral Fellow – NASA Kennedy Space Center.
  • Melana Roberts – Chair of the Board – Food Secure Canada, Toronto Food Policy Council, Toronto Youth Food Policy Council.
  • Cara Wehkamp – Special Advisor to the President on Indigenous Initiatives – University of Guelph.

Watch the Solving for Earth Webinar

Experts from across government and the private sector explored the unique food security challenges faced in both remote and urban communities in developed and developing nations around the globe, and how the Deep Space Food Challenge is changing the future of terrestrial food production.


  • Dr. Alyssa Whitcraft, NASA Harvest Deputy Director & Manager, University of Maryland, Department of Geographical Sciences


  • Merlyn Recinos – Vice president of business development, Arctic Fresh
  • Kiersten Johnson, Ph.D. – Food Security Monitoring and Evaluation, USAID
  • Olivier Demers-Dubé – Senior Innovation Advisor, Zone Agtech

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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