Astronaut’s first bite of space-grown lettuce is ‘awesome’
Astronauts living at the International Space Station took their first bites of space-grown lettuce on Monday, in what scientists described as another step toward enabling human missions to Mars.
“That’s awesome,” exclaimed NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, after he ate a piece of red romaine lettuce that was grown in a special box aboard the orbiting outpost.
NASA says that if space explorers can grow their own food while they are away from the Earth they would be more likely to survive the rigors of deep space exploration, which can last months or even years.
With no way to resupply a spacecraft making a long journey to and from Mars, the ability to cultivate food during the trip will be key to survival, said Kelly.
Ray Wheeler, NASA’s lead scientist for advanced life support activities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, also said fresh foods that contain antioxidants, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce, “could have a positive impact on people’s moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space.”
The red romaine lettuce was grown in a special plant-growing box called a Veggie unit that was built by Orbital Technologies Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin, and was flown to space aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.
The seeds are contained in rooting pillows, which come complete with soil and fertilizer.
This handout photo provided by NASA shows a crop of “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system that tests hardware for growing vegetables and other plants in space on the International Space Station.