For the crews who travel into space for months and even years, a resupply shipment of food is needed. Usually, space agencies send a resupply vehicle to bring fresh fruits and vegetables. But what happens when that resupply finishes?
Astronauts are experimenting with growing crops in space. Such a fact allows them to space gardening, which brings them fresh food for a while.
The Vegetable Production System space garden on the space station, dubbed Veggies, is a simple system that grows fresh pick-and-eat salad. It is also a low-power system with dimensions of luggage, and it can hold up to six plants. The plant develops into a ‘pillow’ loaded with a clay-based extension media and fertilizer that supports sharing nutrients, water, and air in a healthy way around the roots. So, without the pillows, the roots would be overwhelmed by air or drown.
Growing Space Salads for Astronauts
Moreover, the light-transmitting LEDs above the plants that made the spectrum is magenta pink. The spectrum of light helps plants’ growth. The Veggie research centers on the effect of light quality and fertilizer on leafy crop development for up to a 28-day grow-out.
So, six plants are developed utilizing the plant pillows in each of the two Veggie parts aboard the International Space Station. The research will also involve an examination of half of the crop to be frozen and returned to Earth for further investigation. Veggie has succeeded in developing various plants, such as three variants of lettuce, mizuna mustard, Chinese cabbage, red Russian kale, and zinnia flowers.
Astronauts use liquid salt and pepper to season their food. They are also leading significant space biology experiments with the Veggie gardens to find out better how plant growth happens in microgravity. There is also some product-sanitizing citric acid developed for cleaning the leafy greens.