It is showtime, and NASA astronauts cut some Red Romaine lettuce leaves they cultivated during the last two fortnights aboard the ISS, the farthest outpost of Man. It was a part of a gardening harvest technique termed “cut-and-come-again.”
NASA is expecting more than four harvests of romaine lettuce and the yields will be split for science experiments and consumptions by the astronauts aboard the space station.
The project has been dubbed as Veggie Project and is managed by Manager Nicole Dufour. According to Nicole, it is a win-win situation, and the more food which the process produces means more food for astronauts and science.
The US Space Agency is trying to grow flowers and vegetables in space, and the last experiment was started on October 25 when the crew aboard ISS grew six lettuce plants. It was left to Shane Kimbrough who was a garden buff to don the role of Space Gardner and tend his space garden. He was assisted by Veggie project engineers like Charles Spern from the Kennedy Space Center who monitored the crops and suggested tips improve the quality of the lettuce.
The first week of the plantation was disastrous since the small seedling got a lot of water and this stunted their growth somewhat. However, the ground control team saw this and instructed Kimbrough to use a fan to dry up the moisture. The plants recovered soon.
Crew members of ISS have grown lettuce under the cut-and-come-again scheme which envisages partially cutting the leaves and remaining the rest to grow again in the next ten days when another harvest is taken. This way astronaut will be able to get fresh food which also does a word of difference to prep them up and reduces homesickness.
Plants will have to be grown in space if humankind wants to survive the long journey to Mars which is his next big step. Growing plants in gravity will help to make the man feel more close to earth and at the same time add variety to his diet when he will be able to consume fresh food instead of the dull food which he is accustomed to in space odysseys.