Space

Astronauts chow down on space harvest for the first time

Lettuce grown on the International Space Station being prepared for lunch
Lettuce grown on the International Space Station being prepared for lunch
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Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS
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Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS
The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce
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The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce
Lettuce grown on the International Space Station being prepared for lunch
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Lettuce grown on the International Space Station being prepared for lunch
The lettuce was grown on specially designed "pillows"
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The lettuce was grown on specially designed "pillows"
The lettuce was grown under special LED lamps in the "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse
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The lettuce was grown under special LED lamps in the "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse
A hypothetical Martian garden of the future
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A hypothetical Martian garden of the future
Cutaway view of a hypothetical Martian garden of the future
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Cutaway view of a hypothetical Martian garden of the future
A prototype of the "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse
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A prototype of the "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse

The International Space Station (ISS) was the scene of an historic lunch this week with the crew members of Expedition 44 dining on the first meal harvested in space. The dish, which consisted on leaves of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce grown in NASA's "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse, is part of the space agency's effort to find ways to feed tomorrow's deep-space travelers.

The meal, which was eaten on Monday by US astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, was a very informal affair. For preparation, the lettuce was harvested and treated with a citric acid-based, food-safe sanitizing wipe. Since the yield consisted of only a few leaves, the repast was more of a tasting as the three men floated in the experiment module munching on a leaf each. However, the taste was reported by one astrodiner as "awesome."

The Veg-01 experiment sees plants grown in zero gravity in a plastic greenhouse that consists of a collapsible plastic tent with a controllable atmosphere that is lit by red, blue, and green LED lamps. The red and blue lamps provide light to grow the plants, while the green gives the crops a less alien appearance. The seeds themselves are embedded in rooting "pillows" that take the place of soil for root growth and retaining water.

Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS
Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS

The main purpose of Veg-01 is to test technology that may one day allow astronauts to grow gardens aboard spaceships, space stations, or planetary outposts. It isn't possible to carry enough food, water, and air to make manned voyages lasting months or years feasible with current rocket technology. However, a carefully selected crop of plants can cut the supply list by recycling air and waste to produce fresh air, water, and food for the crew. In addition, fresh foods can improve nutrition by providing vitamins and antioxidants.

According to NASA, crew morale is another factor in the experiment. Deep space missions, such as a mission to Mars, will mean small crews working in close confinement with very little to do for long periods of time – a prime recipe for disaster. Recreational activities, such as gardening, combined with the presence of growing plants and periodic fresh food can be a surprisingly effective morale boost and reduce tensions.

In addition, urban farming may also benefit from the ISS farming experiments. In recent years, vertical farming has attracted a great deal of interest from environmentalists, architects, and urban planners. Such farms would use a similar artificial lighting and growing media and the earthbound projects could benefit from the experience gathered on the ISS.

The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce
The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce

The Veggie technology was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) of Madison, Wisconsin and was delivered to the ISS by a SpaceX cargo ship in April 2014. In addition to the greenhouse, the experiment also included two sets of growing pillows with romaine lettuce seeds and one with zinnias. A first crop was grown in May of 2014 over a 33 day period, but these were preserved and returned to Earth in October of last year for safety analysis at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The second crop was started on July 8 and also harvested after 33 days.

One reason the portions for Monday's meal were so small is that half of the tiny crop along with their root pillows were bagged and preserved for later transportation to Earth, where they will be subjected to scientific analysis. According to NASA, the main concern is microbial contamination, but the results from the first crop have been positive. The hope is that the experiment will help scientists to gain a better understanding of how to grow plants in a completely artificial environment. In addition, NASA is working on how to increase the system's yield, so it produces more than a few mouthfuls at a time.

The video below shows the consumption of the historic salad.

Source: NASA

Veggies in Space: Astronauts Sample Freshly Grown Lettuce

The International Space Station (ISS) was the scene of an historic lunch this week with the crew members of Expedition 44 dining on the first meal harvested in space. The dish, which consisted on leaves of "Outredgeous" red romaine lettuce grown in NASA's "Veggie" zero-gravity greenhouse, is part of the space agency's effort to find ways to feed tomorrow's deep-space travelers.

The meal, which was eaten on Monday by US astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, was a very informal affair. For preparation, the lettuce was harvested and treated with a citric acid-based, food-safe sanitizing wipe. Since the yield consisted of only a few leaves, the repast was more of a tasting as the three men floated in the experiment module munching on a leaf each. However, the taste was reported by one astrodiner as "awesome."

The Veg-01 experiment sees plants grown in zero gravity in a plastic greenhouse that consists of a collapsible plastic tent with a controllable atmosphere that is lit by red, blue, and green LED lamps. The red and blue lamps provide light to grow the plants, while the green gives the crops a less alien appearance. The seeds themselves are embedded in rooting "pillows" that take the place of soil for root growth and retaining water.

Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS
Red romaine lettuce grown on the ISS

The main purpose of Veg-01 is to test technology that may one day allow astronauts to grow gardens aboard spaceships, space stations, or planetary outposts. It isn't possible to carry enough food, water, and air to make manned voyages lasting months or years feasible with current rocket technology. However, a carefully selected crop of plants can cut the supply list by recycling air and waste to produce fresh air, water, and food for the crew. In addition, fresh foods can improve nutrition by providing vitamins and antioxidants.

According to NASA, crew morale is another factor in the experiment. Deep space missions, such as a mission to Mars, will mean small crews working in close confinement with very little to do for long periods of time – a prime recipe for disaster. Recreational activities, such as gardening, combined with the presence of growing plants and periodic fresh food can be a surprisingly effective morale boost and reduce tensions.

In addition, urban farming may also benefit from the ISS farming experiments. In recent years, vertical farming has attracted a great deal of interest from environmentalists, architects, and urban planners. Such farms would use a similar artificial lighting and growing media and the earthbound projects could benefit from the experience gathered on the ISS.

The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce
The Expedition 44 crew dining on space lettuce

The Veggie technology was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) of Madison, Wisconsin and was delivered to the ISS by a SpaceX cargo ship in April 2014. In addition to the greenhouse, the experiment also included two sets of growing pillows with romaine lettuce seeds and one with zinnias. A first crop was grown in May of 2014 over a 33 day period, but these were preserved and returned to Earth in October of last year for safety analysis at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The second crop was started on July 8 and also harvested after 33 days.

One reason the portions for Monday's meal were so small is that half of the tiny crop along with their root pillows were bagged and preserved for later transportation to Earth, where they will be subjected to scientific analysis. According to NASA, the main concern is microbial contamination, but the results from the first crop have been positive. The hope is that the experiment will help scientists to gain a better understanding of how to grow plants in a completely artificial environment. In addition, NASA is working on how to increase the system's yield, so it produces more than a few mouthfuls at a time.

The video below shows the consumption of the historic salad.

Source: NASA

Veggies in Space: Astronauts Sample Freshly Grown Lettuce

3 comments
wtmf1234
NASA No vision??? Werner Von Brawn had it figured out in 1952. A rotating wheel space station is a hypothetical wheel-shaped space station that rotates about its axis, thus creating an environment of artificial gravity. Occupants of the station would experience centripetal acceleration according to the following equation, where is the angular velocity of the station, is its radius, and is linear acceleration at any point along its perimeter. In principle, the station could be configured to simulate the gravitational acceleration of Earth (). This is a von Braun 1952 space station concept. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotating_wheel_space_station In a 1952 series of articles written in Collier's, Dr. Wernher von Braun, then Technical Director of the Army Ordnance Guided Missiles Development Group at Redstone Arsenal, wrote of a large wheel-like space station in a 1,075-mile orbit. This station, made of flexible nylon, would be carried into space by a fully reusable three-stage launch vehicle. Once in space, the station's collapsible nylon body would be inflated much like an automobile tire. The 250-foot-wide wheel would rotate to provide artificial gravity, an important consideration at the time because little was known about the effects of prolonged zero-gravity on humans. Von Braun's wheel was slated for a number of important missions: a way station for space exploration, a meteorological observatory and a navigation aid. This concept was illustrated by artist Chesley Bonestell. In the 1950s, Wernher von Braun and Willy Ley, writing in Colliers Magazine, updated the idea, in part as a way to stage spacecraft headed for Mars. They envisioned a rotating wheel with a diameter of 76 meters (250 feet). The 3-deck wheel would revolve at 3 RPM to provide artificial one-third gravity. It was envisaged as having a crew of 80. Come on NASA we are AMERICANS, we can do ANYTHING!
Douglas Bennett Rogers
I would think there would be a heliostat on the space station to bring in direct sunlight. The space station was going to have a rotating section. Gravity could also be produced by acceleration. with a suitable energy source.
Stephen N Russell
add dedicated Greenhouse module for more food prod & ag studies alone Crew can grow spices, vegetables, fruits for meals