Astronauts to harvest and eat space-grown vegetables for first time

Astronauts on the International Space Station will today harvest a crop of lettuce – the first fresh food grown in the microgravity environment to be eaten.

The astronauts will eat half the crop, packaging and freezing the remainder for later analysis on Earth.

NASA’s plant experiment, called Veg-01, is being used to study the in-orbit function and performance of the plant growth facility and its rooting “pillows”, which contain the seeds.

NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement – a critical part of NASA’s Journey to Mars. 

The first pillows were activated by Expedition 39 flight engineer Steve Swanson in May 2014.

After 33 days of growth, the plants were harvested and returned to Earth in October 2014 where they underwent food safety analysis.

The Veggie system was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin. The company’s Paul Zamprelli in the video below describes the hardware that supports plant growth.

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