Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

First bite of space-grown lettuce is 'awesome'
Miami (AFP) Aug 10, 2015

ISS astronauts eat their inaugural 'home-grown' harvest
Cape Canaveral, Fla. (UPI) Aug 10, 2015 - The labs of ISS have hosted vegetables since 2002, but those early experiments were scientific in nature. The plants weren't for eating.

Now, astronauts have grown a variety of edible fruits and vegetables using the growing system known as Veggie. The latest pickings are expected to be on the menu on Monday, August 10.

In 2014, the last time astronauts on the International Space Station blasted "seed pillows" with the light of red and blue LEDs, their Veggie produce was shipped back to Earth. There, it was tested to ensure safety.

Researchers say the closed-air environment of the space station can encourage contamination of diseased plants.

This time, the astronauts have the green light to reap what they sow -- to put it in their mouths. The first crop to be harvested is romaine lettuce, half of which will be eaten by the astronauts, and half of which will be frozen and shipped back to Earth for further scientific analysis.

Researchers say the program is vital to planning for future deep space missions and an eventual manned mission to Mars. In addition to the positive nutritional and sustenance components, there are also the psychological effects.

"There is evidence that supports fresh foods, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce are a good source of antioxidants. Having fresh food like these available in space could have a positive impact on people's moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space," Ray Wheeler, lead scientists for Advanced Life Support activities at Kennedy's Exploration Research and Technology Programs Office, said in a press release.

"Besides having the ability to grow and eat fresh food in space, there also may be a psychological benefit," Dr. Gioia Massa, the NASA payload scientist for Veggie, added. "The crew does get some fresh fruits or vegetables, such as carrots or apples, when a supply ship arrives at the space station. But the quantity is limited and must be consumed quickly."

"The farther and longer humans go away from Earth, the greater the need to be able to grow plants for food, atmosphere recycling and psychological benefits," Massa said. "I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario."

Astronauts living at the International Space Station took their first bites of space-grown lettuce on Monday, in what scientists described as another step toward enabling human missions to Mars.

"That's awesome," exclaimed NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, after he ate a piece of red romaine lettuce that was grown in a special box aboard the orbiting outpost.

"Tastes good," agreed US astronaut Scott Kelly, who is spending one year at the research station.

"Kind of like arugula," Kelly added, then used small bottles to spread extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on his leaf, much as one might spread ketchup and mustard on a hot dog.

NASA says that if space explorers can grow their own food while they are away from the Earth they would be more likely to survive the rigors of deep space exploration, which can last months or even years.

With no way to resupply a spacecraft making a long journey to and from Mars, the ability to cultivate food during the trip will be key to survival, said Kelly.

"This payload, and having the ability for us to grow our own food is a big step in that direction," he said.

Ray Wheeler, NASA's lead scientist for advanced life support activities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, also said fresh foods that contain antioxidants, such as tomatoes, blueberries and red lettuce, "could have a positive impact on people's moods and also could provide some protection against radiation in space."

- Veggie experiment -

The red romaine lettuce was grown in a special plant-growing box called a Veggie unit that was built by Orbital Technologies Corporation in Madison, Wisconsin, and was flown to space aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship.

The seeds are contained in rooting pillows, which come complete with soil and fertilizer.

Since water cannot be poured in space, a special irrigation system delivers moisture to the plant pillows from below.

The Veggie unit weighs about 15 pounds (seven kilograms), is collapsible and expandable, and contains a light bank of red, blue and green LEDs to help plants grow.

Wheeler said that the idea for using LED lights to grow food in space dates back to the late 1990s.

The seeds were "activated" by Kelly on July 8 and grew for 33 days.

On Monday, Lindgren donned blue gloves and used tongs to harvest the lettuce from its growing box, before attaching the leaves carefully to a tray.

He cleaned them with citric acid-based, food-safe sanitizing wipes and handed them, in a resealable bag, to Kelly and Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui.

They saved a couple of leaves for Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka, who were outside the station doing a spacewalk.

"They will eat half of the space bounty, setting aside the other half to be packaged and frozen on the station until it can be returned to Earth for scientific analysis," NASA said on its website.

A previous crop of lettuce was grown in space last year but was not eaten by astronauts. Instead, it underwent -- and passed -- food safety tests back on Earth.

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Japanese firm to mature whisky in space
Tokyo (AFP) July 31, 2015
Japanese whisky will be sent into space next month to test how time in a zero-gravity environment affects its flavour, one of the country's biggest drinks makers said Friday. Samples of whisky produced by Suntory will be stored in the Japanese laboratory facility of the International Space Station for at least a year, with some flasks staying longer. Researchers for the company believe t ... read more

From a million miles away, NASA camera shows moon crossing face of Earth

Russia to conduct simulated flight program to Moon, Mars over 4 years

NASA Could Return Humans to the Moon by 2021

Smithsonian embraces crowdfunding to preserve lunar spacesuit

New Online Exploring Tools Bring NASA's Journey to Mars to New Generation

Six scientists to spend 365 days in HI-SEAS simulated Mars trip

Salt flat indicates some of the last vestiges of surface water on Mars

Mars Rovers and the Last Moonwalker to Invade Poland in September

Spaceflight may increase susceptibility to inflammatory bowel disease

US, Russia, China to Explore Benefits of Outer Space for ASEAN

Third spaceflight for astronaut Paolo Nespoli

New rocket could one day launch flight to Europa

China's space exploration potential has US chasing its own tail

China to deploy space-air-ground sensors for environment protection

Chinese earth station is for exclusively scientific and civilian purposes

Cooperation in satellite technology put Belgium, China to forefront

NASA signs $490 mn contract with Russia for ISS travel

NASA Completes Selection of Crew Members for 2017 ISS Missions

NASA renews $490M contract with Russian Space Agency

Space Kombucha in the search for life and its origin

ILS concludes Proton launch failure investigation

Intelsat 34 fueled for heavy-lift mission with Ariane 5

India to launch 9 US satellites in 2015, 2016

Payload checkout is advancing for Arianespace's September Soyuz flight

Scientists solve planetary ring riddle

Overselling NASA

Study: All planetary rings governed by particle distribution principle

Exoplanets 20/20: Looking Back to the Future

New device converts DC electric field to terahertz radiation

NYU scientists bring order, and color, to microparticles

Metal organic frameworks show unexpected flexibility

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.