Space Station Astronauts Eat First Food ever Grown in Space
Astronauts on the International Space Station have come a long way from subsisting on Tang. They’ve now grown a vegetable in space and eaten it.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced last week that members of Expedition 44 aboard the space station grew red romaine lettuce (“Outredgeous”) using new technology that facilitates plant growth in space. The astronauts planned to eat half of their harvest and save the rest for packaging, freezing and sending back to Earth for testing.
“Tastes good. Kinda like arugula,” astronaut Scott Kelly said. And just because they are hundreds of miles up from the nearest Whole Foods, they didn’t have to eat plain lettuce. The astronauts dressed their salad with extra virgin olive oil and Italian balsamic vinegar.
The plant experiment, called Veg-01 or “Veggie,” was designed by Orbital Technologies Corp. in Madison, Wisconsin, which developed a collapsible plant growth facility that uses a flat panel light bank of red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth. The system puts the seeds in small “pillows” that eventually hold the plant’s roots.
Dr. Ray Wheeler, lead for Advanced Life Support activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Programs Office at the Kennedy Space Center, said it may be possible to grow other types of vegetables as well as fruits in space.
“There is evidence that supports fresh foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce are a good source of antioxidants. Having fresh food like these available in space could have a positive impact on people’s moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space,” Wheeler said.
To Learn More:
Meals Ready to Eat: Expedition 44 Crew Members Sample Leafy Greens Grown on Space Station (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
NASA Astronauts Take First Bites of Lettuce Grown In Space: ‘Tastes like Arugula’ (by Alan Yuhas, The Guardian)
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