Astronauts have eaten food grown in space for the first time ever. A Nasa test saw the crew of the International Space Station eat red romaine lettuce grown in a special farm. Eventually, the agency hopes that similar projects can give the crew of a mission to Mars something to eat as they make the long journey through space.
The astronauts said that the red lettuce — grown in a special, not especially delicious-looking, project — “tasted like arugula”, or rocket.
Three members of the crew added oil and vinegar before eating the lettuce, which they first cleaned with sanitary wipes, which had been grown for 33 days using special technology.
The seeds were taken up to the ISS over a year ago, but not “activated” until last month.
NASA’s plant experiment, called Veg-01, is being used to study the in-orbit function and performance of the plant growth facility, and its rooting “pillows,” which contain the seeds.
NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement — a critical part of NASA’s Journey to Mars.
It had been farmed in a project aboard the station, which uses red, blue and green LEDs to provide light to help the lettuce grow.
The green LEDs aren’t actually necessary to the process — and the food would grow better without them — but helps make the food look a familiar colour.
As well as providing a supply of food, the space-grown vegetables could provide important psychological help.
The Veggie system was developed by Orbital Technologies Corp (ORBITEC) in Madison, Wisconsin, and tested at Kennedy before flight.
Veggie, along with two sets of pillows containing the romaine seeds and one set of zinnias, was delivered to the station on the third cargo resupply mission by SpaceX in April 2014.