As SpaceX successfully blasted its 15th cargo resupply mission into the ISS, astronauts got 5,900 lbs. of cargo that included some rare food offerings, such as fresh greens that are a welcome break from their traditionally prepackaged meals.
A Bid To Grow Fresh Food In Space
NASA’s own plant growth chamber, called Veggie, is deemed a game changer as astronauts in low Earth orbit can now grow and enjoy fresh food. It used to be that perishables need to be eaten quickly once in orbit.
“We want astronauts to be able to grow fresh food to supplement their diets,” said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager, in a statement.
Since launching to the ISS over four years ago, Veggie has been a scientific platform as well as a garden in space that has fed astronauts fresh food grown right in space.
Parts of the arriving Dragon spacecraft are four new plant varieties, namely “Dragoon” lettuce, “Red Russian” kale, “Extra Dwarf” pak choy, and “Wasabi” mustard. These are exciting deviations from the usual variety of lettuce cultivated in the growth chamber called “Outredgeous” red romaine.
The additional plant varieties are picked for their nutrients such as vitamins B1, C, and potassium, which are important but they decline in prepackaged astronaut foods over time.
The VEG-03G, H, I mission is a collaboration between NADA and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. It also engages students in a citizen-science competition where they helped choose the plants flying to the ISS and followed research protocols to help put the plants to test in space.
Other Food Experiments, Astronaut Treats
Another student experiment carried by the Dragon explores how microgreens like basil and rhubarb grow in space, Space reported. Thee microgreens will grow in test tubes, and the students will compare the results of the experiment on Earth with those from the ISS.
In addition, a batch of space algae is also making its way to the space lab, hopefully providing insight on how the algae react to microgravity conditions.
Another treat in store for astronauts is the Death Wish Coffee, billed by its maker as the world’s strongest coffee containing 200 percent more caffeine compared with regular coffee.
It’s highlighted as fair-trade, USDA-certified organic coffee beans made from refined roasting methods to create a high-caffeine, low-acidity coffee that tastes good.