Nasa Mars Food Production Concept ©NASA
On the 10th August 2015, for the first time ever, astronauts on the International Space Station ate a plant that had been cultivated in space. The astronauts ate Red Romaine Lettuce that had been grown in the NASA “Veggie” experiment. The current experiment requires astronaut time to ensure a successful crop is produced. With NASA planning to send long-duration space missions to Mars and ESA planning long duration missions to the moon, the challenge is on to refine the system for growing food in space.
Create a system that minimises the amount of astronaut time required to grow food in space. The challenge is to create a prototype that automates the process as much as possible. The prototype will likely have methods for caring for the plants and may also provide information on the plants’ growth and condition that can be sent back to mission control.
- That space onboard launch vehicles is at a premium, so any system must minimise the space that it requires at launch.
- Although power budgets on manned-spacecraft tend to be high, energy must still be used efficiently by all systems on board.