Futuristic scenarios in which astronauts consume pills instead of food couldn’t be further from the truth, thanks to new devices for growing fresh vegetables in space. NASA’s next resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) will include the world’s first vegetable growth chamber! The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled to be launched today at 4:58 pm EST, will carry the “Veggie” device to the ISS, where astronauts plan to grow fresh produce.
The Veg-01 chamber for growing vegetables in space was developed in collaboration between NASA and Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC). The first tests were conducted using crops of lettuce and radishes. Seedlings were placed in the Veggie root-mat pillows, and their growth was monitored for health, size, amount of water used and the microorganisms that grew on them. The low-cost plant growth chamber uses a flat-panel light that supports plant growth and can be easily collapsed for transportation and storage.
The internal growing areas are 11.5 inches wide and 14.5 inches deep, which makes it the largest plant growth chamber designed for space to date. The scientists hope that Veggie will prove its efficiency and its use will expand to recreational gardening activities during long-duration space missions. If things go according to plan, astronauts onboard the largest artificial body in Earth’s orbit will be able to indulge in some healthy and fresh food in no time.