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.”

Veg­gie Experiment

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.

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