NASA is all set to grow vegetables on a patch 230 miles above Earth. The Vegetable Production System (VEGGIE) program will send station kits to the astronauts on the International Space Station to grow six romaine lettuce plants.
So far successfully grown in space was a zucchini following an experiment by the astronaut Don Pettit while he was on the space station.
The romaine lettuce plants will grow under pink LED lights and then be harvested after 28 days. However, the astronauts will not be able to tuck into the veggies as the first harvest will be sent back to Earth to be tested for bacteria and cleanliness.
It is thought that growing food in space could be more cost effective for space missions. It could also provide the residents of the space station with some therapy, helping them cope with the isolation of living in space and make them feel more at home.
The challenge will come as the program advances further. NASA will need to consider how to grow and control more complicated crops, and while the easier varieties may not raise growing issues, whether they are appetising or not also plays a factor.
NASA have also explored 3D printed food for astronauts in space. It costs around $10,000 to send one pound of food to the space station. So whether the astronauts harvest their food or print it, the key thing thing will be does it save money?
[Image via NASA]