The next Commercial Resupply Services mission launched by NASA is to present astronauts a new and innovative Vegetable Production System, which will allow them to grow their own crops in outer space and eat fresh salads whenever they so please.
Although NASA's astronauts are already busy enjoying the healthy treats the Lada greenhouse unit and the Advanced Biological Research System are providing them with, it seems that this latest facility designed especially for growing plants during their missions is the simplest and most efficient of the three.
Some of the vegetables that have already been successfully grown whilst testing this unit include lettuce, radishes, Chinese cabbage and peas.
The specialists who have worked on designing this Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE, for short) claim that the unit only needs 115 watts to do its job, and weighs about 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms).
In other words: it is perfectly suited to meet the astronauts’ needs and not place too much strain on the resource they have at their disposal.
“Our hope is that even though VEGGIE is not a highly complex plant growth apparatus, it will allow the crew to rapidly grow vegetables using a fairly simple nutrient and water delivery approach,” Ph. D and Chief Scientist Howard Levine said with respect to this project.
“VEGGIE could be used to produce faster-growing species of plants, such as lettuce or radishes, bok choy or Chinese cabbage, or even bitter leafy greens,” specialist Gioia Massa went on to add.
informs us that, after growing vegetables in this manner, the astronauts will send samples back to earth, where microbiologists will check to see whether or not they are safe to eat.
Moreover, these plants will help up the crew's morale.
As Gioia Massa puts it, “Based upon anecdotal evidence, crews report that having plants around was very comforting and helped them feel less out of touch with Earth. You could also think of plants as pets. The crew just likes to nurture them.”