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NASA’s Vegan Garden

U.S. astronauts living and working aboard the International Space Station will receive a newly developed Vegetable Production System.

NASA is currently working on VEGGIE, which is an idea to for fast growing vegan farms to be used in space.

VEGGIE is set to launch aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on NASA’s third Commercial Resupply Services mission this year.

Imagine that! A vegetable garden in space.

“Our hope is that even though VEGGIE is not a highly complex plant growth apparatus, it will allow the crew to rapidly grow vegetables using a fairly simple nutrient and water delivery approach,” said Howard Levine, Ph.D. and chief scientist, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center International Space Station Research Office.

Gioia Massa, a postdoctoral fellow in the Surface Systems Group of Kennedy’s Engineering Directorate, has been working with the International Space Station Research Office to validate the VEGGIE hardware here on Earth before it takes flight.

Weighing in at about 15 pounds and taking up the space of a stove-top microwave oven, the stowable and deployable VEGGIE system was built by Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wis. The company designed the system to enable low-maintenance experiments, giving astronauts the opportunity to garden recreationally.

An added benefit of the VEGGIE system is that it requires only about 115 watts to operate, less than half the energy it takes to power a desktop computer and monitor. The blue, red and green light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are bright enough for crops to grow, but energy efficient enough for a place where power is at a premium.

This will allow the astronauts to have a healthy fresh vegan diet in space that could help provide needed nutrients from a fresh source rather than packaged food. Additionally, it should help give a stronger sense of home. VEGGIE has many potential uses but for the moment NASA plans to see how the equipment works.

Source: NASA
Image: NASA

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