The International Space Station Prepared to Grow Fruits in Space

The International Space Station Prepared to Grow Fruits in Space

It was humanity’s wildest dream to send humans into space. And in 1961 it became a reality. Nowadays, the space race will mean nothing if we cannot assure a sustainable living in space. And how better start doing that than by trying to grow living organisms in space. But not just any kind of living organisms – fruits.

This is what NASA is planning to do in the near future. The space agency is preparing to start growing fruits starting November, this year. Astronauts on the International Space Station will cultivate Capsicum annuum, a species of chilli pepper plants. If everything runs smoothly, the chilli peppers will be the first fruits to bud in space.

It is worth mentioning that Russian and American astronauts have been growing plants in space since 1982, such as peas, lettuce, tomatoes (even though that did not end well for the plants), chard, radishes and Chinese cabbage. These plants contributed to astronauts and cosmonauts’ diets in space.

Why chilli peppers?
Chilli peppers are known as fruits that are no more than 60 cm (24 inches) tall and develop well in controlled environments. They are also able to grow at high altitudes and are efficiently fertilized with pollen. But this is not the only reason the National Aeronautics and Space Agency decided on the peppers. The fruit is known for its high levels of vitamin C, which is very valuable for astronaut’s diet while in space. Also, astronauts also hinted that food that could have a bit more flavour and spiciness will be much appreciated.

It wasn’t easy growing all those plants on the International Space Station, as plants usually need gravity to know which way is up and which way is down, but astronauts succeeded in this task. The ISS has since 2018 an advanced plant habitat named the “Vegetable Production System” (Veggie) that will make astronomers’ task easier.

Because of the planned Mars expedition in 2024, NASA realized that growing food in space is one of the biggest priorities as the trip to Mars will take quite a long time (between six and twelve months). A varied diet will be good for astronomers, now mentioning the mental health benefits growing plants in space will have.

Asheley Rice

I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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