Fresh Food Production in Space

A plant growth chamber bound for the Space Station inside the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission will help expand in-orbit food production capabilities and offer astronauts something they don’t take for granted, fresh food.   Image © NASA/Bryan Onate

NASA’s Veg-01 experiment will be used to study the in-orbit function and performance of a new expandable plant growth facility called Veggie and its plant “pillows.” The investigation will focus on the growth and development of “Outredgeous” lettuce seedlings in the spaceflight environment.



“Veggie will provide a new resource for U.S. astronauts and researchers as we begin to develop the capabilities of growing fresh produce and other large plants on the space station,” said Gioia Massa, NASA payload scientist for Veggie. “Determining food safety is one of our primary goals for this validation test.”

Fresh Food Production in Space 2

A 28-day-old Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plant grows in a prototype v flight pillow. U.S. astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station are going to receive a newly developed Vegetable Production System Veggie.
Image Credit: NASA/Gioia Massa

Veggie is a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank that includes red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and crew observation. Veggie’s unique design is collapsible for transport and storage and expandable up to a foot and a half as plants grow inside it.

“The internal growing area is 11.5 inches wide by 14.5 inches deep, making it the largest plant growth chamber for space to date,” Massa said.

Fresh Food Production in Space 3

Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside in a prototype Veggie flight pillow. The bellows of the hardware have been lowered to better observe the plants. A small temperature and relative humidity data logger is placed between the pillows small white box, central.  Image Credit: NASA/Gioia Massa

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