A crew aboard a spaceship hurtling to places far into deep space need to balance an adequate amount of resources with a ship light enough to jet off to destinations as fast as possible. When it comes to food, the plan is to go back to humanity’s basic and grow what you eat in space itself. And it looks like we can finally put lettuce on a staple part of the astronaut menu.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough is in charge of the latest iteration of the agency’s Veggie experiment, and he’s doing a pretty outstanding job (unlike predecessor Scott Kelly, who seems to have lacked a green thumb in microgravity. Kimgbrough recently harvested the first of multiple harvests taken from six lettuce plants growing aboard the International Space Station.
It’s excellent news for the prospects of being able to create a sustainable source of food en route to planets like Mars. Lettuce is particularly useful, since a portion of its leaves can be harvested while thrust continues to grow and proceed subsequent harvests about every 10 days. That’s exactly the technique Kimbrough is testing right now.
“Testing this method on-orbit, after using it on the ground, is very exciting for us, said Veggie project manager Nicole Dufour in a news release. “A repetitive harvest allows us to provide more food for both the crew and for science, so it’s a win-win. We are looking forward to hearing how Shane enjoys his first harvest.”
This just the first of four planned harvests, with the final one to occur early next year. The next phase of the Veggie experiments will most likely involve the use of a brand new space farming system which should produce bigger and better crop yields.