Hurray for the pioneers of growing space salad, International Space Station (ISS) astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui.
It might seem trivial for some that growing salad is a piece of news. Yet, let’s consider the larger picture. The International Space Station produce is not your ordinary, off the shelf salad. While seeds may be taken from Earth, fresh produce is off limits.
Developing the capability to grow fresh produce such as red romaine salad goes a long way for the future implications of space exploration. Particularly for space travels that are bound to happen soon.
And that is the case of Mars and NASA’s ambitious plans of sending the first human crew to explore the planet. Being self-sustainable is invaluable for the quality of life of the astronauts and for the mission itself.
So, on Monday, the three astronauts aboard the International Space Station paraded for NASA TV the results of the experiment coined Veg-01. A beautifully grown pack of red romaine salad was presented to viewers and then enjoyed as a meal by Kelly, Lindgren and Yui.
‘Good stuff’ commented Scott Kelly as he was eating the red romaine salad. It is exciting as this broadcasted event is not only, in the tweeted words of Kelly:
but also the first time International Space Station-grown produce is consumed in space. While the plants have been aboard the ISS since May 2014, this is the first time the astronauts got to enjoy them after watching them grow.
The first batch to ever grow on the ISS was sent back to Earth for further analysis. Now, the second batch was curated in ‘Veggie’, the specially adapted greenhouse where the seeds were planted on July 8th and caressed by the LED lightning in green, blue and red cues. According to NASA’s statement, Veg-01 intends to
“study the in-circle capacity and execution of the plant development office and its establishing cushions, which contain the seeds”.
Not all of the July 8th batch of red romaine was eaten by the excited astronauts. A part was harvested and frozen so as it may be returned for analysis to Earth.
Microgravity gardening is yielding results. And tasty ones at that!
Photo Credits: hngn.com