U.S.: NASA plans space lettuce project in December

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U.S.: NASA plans space lettuce project in December

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to launch a lettuce-growing project on the International Space Station (ISS) this December, magazine Modern Farmer reported. VEGGIE1 - NASA

The story reported the cost of sending food is around US$10,000 per pound, making a powerful case for developing a regenerative horticultural system to feed astronauts, which developers hope will also provide psychological relief.

The 7.2kg (15.8lbs) Vegetable Production System (Veggie) consists of Kevlar pillow packs filled with a kitty litter-likematerial that will grow six romaine lettuce plants of the Outredgeous variety under LED lights.

"With the advent of long-duration space laboratories such as Mir and the International Space Station (ISS) it has become clear that more emphasis needs to be placed on improving the human habitability of these environments," says a NASA description of the system.

"The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food and a tool to support relaxation and recreation. The Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery, but utilizes the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth.

"Veggie will study crop productivity, air and water revitalization with reduced logistical and operational resources compared to other plant growth systems.

NASA has historically tested plant growth in space, and now that is has determined the effects of zero-gravity on the process it will be venturing outside what have mostly been academic tests until now.

Photo: NASA



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