Closed ecological plant cultivation system and bakery for extended stay on Mars, and applications on our own planet

Why this project?

On Mars, different rules for survival apply than on Earth. The temperature fluctuates widely to well below zero, the thin atmosphere contains almost exclusively CO2 and it allows a lot of space radiation to pass through. The climate is therefore harsh. The first Martians will have to find solutions to adapt to this environment. But this requires new disruptive technologies. And it is precisely these innovative technologies that can also offer great added value here on Earth in the context of climate adaptation.

Research approach and results

Spacebakery was a cooperative business project (type ICON) in which several businesses from the various sectors collaborate with research institutes to create a ‘Space Bakery’. 

The 'Space Bakery' is a closed ecosystem for plant cultivation and a bakery. Research is carried out for long-term stays on the planet Mars and potential applications on Earth. 

It is a closed and self-sustaining modular system that is independent of agricultural soil and climate and that makes optimum use of raw materials.

foto spacebakery

1. Hardware – closed production system - 2. Efficient crop production - 3. Use and recycling of raw materials - 4. Monitoring the microbial climate - 5. Healthy and nutritious basic food - Preparing for the next phase:
6. Pollination within a closed system

These are the compartments in the containers:

  1. Researchers enter the closed environment via the clean room.
  2. They put on laboratory clothing.
  3.  Wheat is made into flour in the Mars bakery room. The sourdough is created through natural fermentation and the bread is prepared and evaluated.
  4. In the vertical farm room, the crops grow on racks.
  5. The sanitary room includes a toilet, wash basin and shower.
  6. The storage room contains all the materials the researchers will need (tools, etc.)

Access to the results

SpaceBakery started in January 2020 and ended in September 2023. Curious about the results of disruptive research of 2 years? Read the SpaceBakery story in our RADAR Story newsletter: Zuurdesembrood bakken op Mars, hoe begin je eraan? - Flanders' FOOD (

And take a look at the SpaceBakery website.

Target Group

The project partners worked together in a closed consortium. You can find a sneak peak of the results in the 'Story' above. This article is intended for a broad target group of companies, from technology providers (drone applications, plant sensors), companies specialized in vertical farming, to bakeries.


Flanders’ FOOD managed and coordinated the project.  
The following companies and research groups were responsible for the execution: 

  • Puratos
  • Urban Crop Solutions
  • Magics Instruments
  • Ghent University: Laboratory for Plant Ecology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.
  • SCK CEN: Expert group for interdisciplinary biosciences
  • Hasselt University: Centre for Environmental Sciences
Flanders' FOOD logo
Logo Puratos
Urban Crop Solutions
Logo Magics Instruments
Universiteit Gent
Universiteit Hasselt


Timothy Lefeber
research manager
Ellen Martens
Ellen Martens
innovation manager