On Tonight's Menu: The First Salad Grown in Outer Space

On Tonight's Menu: The First Salad Grown in Outer Space

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing to reap the fruits of their labor on Monday, when they will chow down on the first food grown entirely in space.

Monday, August 10th, 2015 is a date marked on every astronaut's calendar: so long, freeze-dried burger patties; adios, powdered orange juice. For the first time in space-faring history, the crew aboard the ISS will be eating fresh greens, right from the garden.

It goes without saying, the in-flight peanuts are going right out the window.

The first harvest the crew gets to sample actually isn't a "green," per se - it's a variety of red romaine lettuce the pun-happy NASA scientists have named "outREDgeous." Ouch.

Thanks to NASA's plant-growing experiment named Veg-01, or Veggie, leafy greens have finally been successfully cultivated in low Earth orbit, after decades of attempts. Growing food in zero gravity is fraught with problems - you can't rely on water dropping into the soil, let alone that same soil not floating up and away. Without up or down, roots grow in a tangled, chaotic mess, and flowers have a hard time finding the sun from a porthole on the space station.

That's where the "pillows" come in, which you can see in the video and gallery below. Tightly packed with soil, nutrients, and the important seeds, the comfy-looking packages are placed in the collapsible Veg-01 container. There, the fledgling plants are bombarded with red and blue "sunlight" as they grow; stakes in the "pillows" guide the roots into the soil, act as a wick for water moisture, and prompt the shoots to grow "upwards."

The ultimate aim here is to make food-growing feasible in space - it is relatively easy to send food up to the ISS, when you are comparing it to long-distance, "someday" targets like Mars. In the gallery below are some of NASA's artists' renderings of what the Veggie system could look like on the red planet.

This sounds like enough reason to crack open a bottle of space-aged whisky...

Source: NASA

Permalink

Hmmm... Lettuce just isn't my dish. How about tomatoes, celery, black olives, Rotini pasta, and a nice vinaigrette?

(Yup, that's right. Pasta Salad...IN SPAAAACE!)

I wonder if they had a large enough harvest, would there be any appreciable oxygen produced by growing veggies? Probably not as they don't mention that at all.

Oh well.

Frezzato:
I wonder if they had a large enough harvest, would there be any appreciable oxygen produced by growing veggies? Probably not as they don't mention that at all.

Oh well.

Sure...emphasis on "large enough" though. It'd take a massive amount, but then again, if you had to live on food you grew yourself, you'd need an entire farm.

This is super cool! I bet that science lettuce is the best tasting lettuce, being that they're grown in as close to perfectly optimal conditions as possible. Next up: potatoes. Make Mark Watney proud NASA!

PatrickJS:

This sounds like enough reason to crack open a bottle of space-aged whisky

Why whiskey, though? Why not space-aged moonshine?

I wonder if they'll use 400 Mile Dressing?

BOOSH!

Scrythe:
Why not space-aged moonshine?

Have you seen the toilets up there? Not exactly prison gin quality...

PatrickJS:

Scrythe:
Why not space-aged moonshine?

Have you seen the toilets up there? Not exactly prison gin quality...

Say, given that Apollo 13 was spared from taxes and that Buzz Aldrin had to fill in paperwork for leaving the country, does this mean that astronauts can't get busted for DUI in space?

Up next, space steaks! Mm, gotta love me some decalcified Kobe Beef with zero-g-related health problems!

PatrickJS:
Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are preparing to reap the fruits of their labor on Monday, when they will chow down on the first food grown entirely in space.

The video you posted as the center piece of the article:
NASA says the first crop of outredgeous should be ready for harvesting in late May but astronauts won't be allowed to taste test. "First we have to bring the lettuce home for analazis" she explains (Gioia Massa of NASA's Kennedy Space Center). "Is it safe to eat? Are there any bacteria growing on the leaves? These are some of the questions we'll be looking at. If everything checks out, future crops may be eaten."

Is this an old video or did you miss that part?

Product Placement:
Is this an old video or did you miss that part?

Note the date on the video - April 25th, 2014. The first harvest of outredgeous was sent back for examination last year - this weekend is the first time it will be eaten by astronauts, now that we know it's totally safe.

I'm expecting necromorphs or the "scene" from Event Horizon out of this. At the least I am expecting something- we have never done anything like this and due to the chemistry between microbiotics, plant life and the atmospheric conditions these things were made, I will be curious of the long-term effects of eating food grown in space, even under artifical conditions.

Or something.

PatrickJS:
now that we know it's totally safe.

Because god forbid the astronaut may spend the day on the loo with diarrhea, Oh the humanity.

mad825:
Because god forbid the astronaut may spend the day on the loo with diarrhea, Oh the humanity.

Well, you do know how liquidity substances behave in space, right?

This feels a little too "Waters Of Mars" for my tastes.

Can't deny that would be an amazing way to go.

I'm more interested regarding how we get to a point where we can replant in space. Getting prepackaged items that work is nice and all but severely limiting.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here