We met the most promising startup Vivatech 2022 (Interstellar Lab)

French startup Interstellar Lab, which launched in 2020, is now present at the Vivatech show in Paris. The purpose of his visit, the presentation of BioPod, his very first product for marketing is near. With its inflatable module, the hope is to recreate environments that are conducive to life, thanks to a system for “to recreate the perfect climatic conditions for life on Earth and in Space”.

We met Barbara Belvisi, its founder and director. Along with this, approximately twenty employees from aerospace (SpaceX, Blue Origin, Airbus) and agronomists (primarily from Agricool) are developing their BioPods in Paris and Los Angeles. Insterstellar Lab targets the Moon, Mars, but also experiments on Earth for the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries and for university research.

Drawing inspiration from nature to recreate life

Startups promise to understand that nature and its knowledge is an open pit gold mine. Without it, it is difficult to suggest long -term solutions. Interstellar is definitely one of them and that’s why its name is present among the winners of Future40, the Station F ranking of the 40 most promising startups.

On the contrary, investors are struggling. They are European and American, specializing in both sustainable solutions and aeronautics. There are Urania Ventures, Auxxo, 7percent Ventures, Seldor Capital, E2MC, Starburst, Kima Ventures and Bpifrance. Last March, Interstellar Lab accepted funding of 5 million euros in venture capital.

BioPod, its first module “to recreate life”, has completed its nine-month development phase. To go very quickly, Barbara Belvisi explained to us that her teams work as closely as possible with their suppliers. An aeronautical company for the composite base, and a German company for the inflatable membrane. The software, to monitor conditions and configure everything, is Dassault’s partner.

The sustainable cultivation of plants on Earth

Insterstellar Lab made the first prototype of its module by taking over a space in Ivry-sur-Seine. Here, he was able to plant vanilla, in an above-ground culture model called “in aeroponics” with a supply of water and nutrients through cannulas. Vanilla requires a very specific condition that the BioPod can achieve “by adjusting temperature, humidity, air, CO2 levels and brightness”.

With this tool, the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries are looking to get started. It already has an order book of 70 BioPods, a success. It must be said that such companies have the ability to test and cultivate new plants with inexpensive and sustainable solutions such as Interstellar Lab. The research community, with universities, has also shown its interest.

Economical and productive, the BioPod reduces water consumption (by 98%) and energy (x20) while increasing yield (up to x300), according to its first measurements in Ivry-sur-Seine. With BioPod, Interstellar Lab aims to deploy entire bases, directly on Earth, to bring researchers and aerospace companies there. The philosophy of its founder: the ability to bring life elsewhere in space requires above all the finding of sustainable solutions also on Earth.

On the Moon and spinning in space

But the most impressive thing for the French nugget’s CV is his simultaneous work with NASA and CNES. American and French space agencies are interested in deploying such modules in space.

NASA wants to embed such solutions in its Artemis program (next mission on the moon) and CNES would be interested in deploying a “food production systems for Deep Space and low orbit”. To do this, Barbara Belvisi told us they could offer “a more automated and controlled system capable of growing plants, fungi and insects”.

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