‘Awesome’, ‘tastes good’, ‘kind of like Arugula’ and ‘that’s fresh’ are the responses of Astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Kimiya Yui of Japan after taking their first bites of food grown on the International Space Station on Monday, August 10, 2015. The astronauts sampled fresh red romaine lettuce, the first food to be grown, harvested and eaten in space.
Food growth studies are very popular with SSEP student teams because of their relevance to long duration space travel. Lettuce growth experiments in particular flew with SSEP Missions 5 and 6 to the ISS. Just like the NASA Veg-01 Experiment, teams from Long Branch, New Jersey, Rockland County, New York, and Hillsborough County, FL, studied the growth or germination of lettuce in space.
Check out this NASA video of Astronauts taking their first bites of space-grown lettuce:
For more information about NASA’s Veg-01 experiment, read the complete NASA article:
For more information about the SSEP Mission 5 to ISS Lettuce Investigations check out these videos:
Hillsborough County, Florida
Will microgravity affect the germination/growth of lettuce seeds?
FishHawk Creek Elementary, Hillsborough County Public Schools
Grade level: 5
Co-Principal Investigators: Miranda Corbo, Srinidhi Raghavan, and Isabelle Utsler
Teacher Facilitator: Mary Vaughn
Abstract: The purpose of the experiment is to observe the effect of microgravity on the growth/germination of lettuce seeds. Our experiment will measure for the rate of the germination of lettuce seeds. Seed germination is so critical and not very well understood in microgravity. Lettuce and other vegetables will expand the in-orbit food capabilities and will allow for astronauts to have fresh food.
Rockland County, New York
Lettuce in Space
South Orangetown Central School District
Grade level: 4 and 5
Co-Principal Investigators: Zachary Visconti, Colm Shalvey, and Luke Rabinowitz
Teacher Facilitator: Kristy Nadler
Abstract: The purpose of the experiment is to see if lettuce will germinate in microgravity. After the experiment we will observe if microgravity will have a positive, negative, or neutral effect on growth. We will compare the sample from the ISS to our ground truth by observing germination from both tubes. If the lettuce germinates in microgravity astronauts can eat lettuce on long space flights. This will provide the astronauts the opportunity to eat fresh vegetables while on extended space voyage.
For more information about the SSEP Mission 6 to ISS Lettuce Investigation check out this video:
Long Branch, New Jersey
Hydroponics vs. Microgravity
Gregory School, Long Branch, New Jersey
Grade level: 5
Co-Principal Investigators: Zachary FitzGerald, Ronnie Gibson, Jonathan Rocha, and Michael Zapcic
Teacher Facilitator: Laura Lazzati and Elizabeth Muscillo
Abstract: This experiment explores the effect of farming in microgravity using hydroponics, and how is it different from plants grown on Earth using the same method. In this experiment a lettuce seed will be grown from seed using a solution of miracle grow on the international space station to assess the effect of microgravity on the growth of a lettuce seed. If the seeds grow more efficiently in microgravity that could help grow plants on earth under the same protocols.
The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) is a program of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in the U.S., and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education internationally. It is enabled through a strategic partnership with NanoRacks LLC, working with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory. SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture.
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and Subaru of America, Inc., are U.S. National Partners on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Magellan Aerospace is a Canadian National Partner on the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.