Soon, the astronauts that are currently aboard the International Space Station will get the chance to see some pleasant flowers growing in the microgravitational conditions of space.
Another experiment being conducted on the International Space Station right now is growing flowers, which is taking place after a successful test of the astronauts having grown their own lettuce and then eating it just three months ago.
The flowers, if everything goes according to plan, would start blooming by the new year, giving astronauts aboard the giant metal space station something organic and beautiful to look at for a change.
Most importantly, it’s not about the aspect of beauty, but about the learning process. It’ll give the scientists on board the International Space Station a chance to learn about the effects of space on plants that create flowers. If everything goes well, then it will be on the astronauts’ to-do list to try and grow tomatoes in space by 2017.
“Growing a flowering crop is more challenging than growing a vegetative crop such as lettuce,” said Gioia Massa, NASA Kennedy Space Center payload scientist for Veggie. “Lighting and other environmental parameters are more critical.”
NASA explains in a statement that the plants will be treated with different forms of light – red, green, and blue LEDs – and will be given water on a regular basis to ensure growth. The plants will then be allowed to grow for 60 days, which should be ample time for the scientists to grab the information they’re interested in and draw conclusions about future space plant growth experiments.
Getting fruits and vegetables to grow in space is a good thing, because it means astronauts could have access to healthier foods while in space rather than eating food that has been dried out and vacuum-packed to make it easier to transport into space. Instead, astronauts can bite into juicy, organic veggies that have been grown right in space without the need to have these heavier and bulkier food items shipped to them.
Another benefit is having something more self-sustainable, such that fewer food trips could be made, saving space agencies a lot more money that can be focused elsewhere, such as on longer-distance trips.
Perhaps in the near future, International Space Station astronauts will get the chance to chow down on a full plate of space-grown salads, and not just dry, vacuum-packed food.
Below, you can see the video from when astronauts aboard the International Space Station took their first bites of the lettuce grown on the station: