Transporting livestock in space

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by domesticated om, Aug 18, 2010.

  1. domesticated om Cartoon character Valued Senior Member

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    I was pondering what it would be like to participate in the colonization of space and other planets -- and what day to day living would be like.

    I thought about many of the obligatory sacrifices I'd possibly have to make - like cramped living conditions if I'm stationed in a small submarine-ish environment; or daily regimens of special exercises and frequent cancer screenings. There is also the meals....

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume either one of two scenarios would be prevalent no matter where I went: either food is stored and periodically restocked (months worth of fancy MREs), or strictly vegetarian (all food comes from some sort of self sustaining garden facility). Well, call me spoiled, but I would be miserable if I went for too long without fresh meat/poultry/fish.

    That being said, how exactly would one go about either keeping or transporting livestock through space? If humans build a colony on mars (for example), would it even be feasible to get livestock there? would the cattle/chickens/etc survive the launch? several months in 0 gravity? Is it possible to pack enough feed to get them various places, or is the hypothetical payload requirement ridiculously massive?
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2010
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  3. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

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    They'd more probably be shipped as frozen embryos than as mobile livestock for a colony.
    I can't imagine anyone would ship livestock as livestock. The food/ water/ air requirements would be massive (and prohibitive).
    As would space and weight considerations.
    And the extra load on recycling of, um, waste products.
     
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  5. domesticated om Cartoon character Valued Senior Member

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    Just out of curiosity, how would one go about gestating them once they reached the destination?
     
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  7. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I don't think we have that technology yet. If we were to do it with today's technology, we'd have to use chickens and other birds. It's easy to incubate and hatch eggs, farmers and aviculturists do it all the time.

    Some species, like chickens, don't even require parenting. They're fully fledged when they're hatched and they can forage for their own food.

    Of course there's the problem of freezing the eggs without killing them. But that's probably easier to figure out than building an artificial womb for a mammal embryo.

    Nonetheless, it's well-known that carnivory is an incredibly inefficient way to feed humans. It will be a long time before spaceships have enough discretionary cargo capacity to ship animals just to serve as food. We're going to need a lot of tools and instruments first. We'll have all we can do to grow enough crops to feed ourselves. Growing even more to feed meat animals... well you get the picture.

    I'm sure the first several generations of space travelers will have to settle for veggie burgers.

    If we can afford a few animals in the payload it should be dogs. We'll need them for stress relief, companionship for the children, and nothing makes a desolate alien place feel more like "home" than a dog.
     
  8. Pinwheel Banned Banned

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    One word: Tomeato.
     
  9. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Could become vegetarians.

    Could use in vitro fertilization.

    Stasis, as humans will, be then revive them when you arrive where you are going.
     
  10. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Meat can be grown using only a single cloned meat cell and a single cloned fat cell.
     
  11. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

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    It would most likely be done with single-cell protein, or mycoprotein - the products could be textured and flavoured to resemble meat or fish. Quorn would be the true food of the future. Actual livestock could be transported as eggs or embryos, as others have said, but that's unlikely to be done until a colony is already well-established and can set aside space and resources to rear animals.

    Not everyone likes dogs. They are noisy, unhygienic and can be dangerous. Captain Jonathan Archer notwithstanding, I doubt many space pioneers will be able to justify bringing a dog - or would want to, since many would consider it cruel to keep dogs in a totally artificial, sealed environment.
     
  12. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    Why grow fake meat when you can grow real meat without the animal?
     
  13. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

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    The cloning process you describe sounds like it would be expensive and awkward to maintain, whereas algae or yeast grows easily - all it needs is light, water and a nonliving substrate.
     
  14. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    It grows on it's own in a nutrient solution. I think not eating meat would present a psychological hurdle to people already struggling with the rigors of space travel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_vitro_meat
     
  15. Starthane Xyzth returns occasionally... Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, we humans evolved to eat meat... vegetarianism is a self-imposed dietary impoverishment. The romance of space travel would not compensate for the gloom of compulsory abstinence from meat.
     
  16. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I wouldn't be so gloomy if the spaceship looked like this:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  17. Gremmie "Happiness is a warm gun" Valued Senior Member

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    Now THAT I could live with.
     
  18. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    I assume they have a huge panel of white LEDs.
     
  19. Gremmie "Happiness is a warm gun" Valued Senior Member

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    One has to ask though..

    Will there be Sci-Forums in space? And there has to be beer.

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  20. keith1 Guest

    There is enough ore and water resources in the closer Asteroid belt, to do anything we want. To build any size structures we desire. And the technology to get there in numbers is at hand.
     
  21. Gremmie "Happiness is a warm gun" Valued Senior Member

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    Only problem, no one around to finance such an immense project.
     
  22. jmpet Valued Senior Member

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    Cow manure would be particularly valuable in any sort of colonization of Mars, although I don't see cows making the trip for a decade-plus after the first colony. Freeze dried foods and a mostly vegetarian diet would be the mainstay of any colonization attempt.

    In the larger context, I see CFC-laden ships crash landing on Mars by the hundred before any honest attempt at colonizing Mars takes place. Mars is 1/4 the size of the Earth but is all land... the net effect is as much land as the Earth has... Mars is a HUGE planet.

    Boy do I wish we could visit Mars in the next decade or century, but I don't see it happening without a mega plan to colonize the entire planet- a process that takes centuries to fruition.
     
  23. Parmenides Registered Senior Member

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    I am skeptical we would take animals or livestock (in a living form) into space. Because the costs involved in transporting material out of the Earth's gravitational well into space are so high, there would be a great incentive (particularly if private entities were involved) to minimise the stores being taken on board into space. The logistical problems would be very difficult (how would you feed a cow for example on a trip to Mars or Jupiter?) and also living things in space might be negatively effected by low gravity and cosmic rays.

    I imagine if we did transport livestock in space, it would be in the form of frozen embryoes or perhaps gametes and stem cells. These would be quite easy to transport and store (as you are only moving a microscopic embryo verses a living animal into space). These could be manipulated using biotechnology and bioengineering to adapt them appropriately to the local environment (i.e. Mars or a space colony) before they were born. Given the rapid advances in biotechnology and gene-mapping I think it is not unreasonable to believe we will have this technological capacity by the end of the 21st century.
     

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