WSU-led space farming yields first harvest on space station (video)

Astro farmers A.J. Feustel (Astro Farmer) and Rick Arnold, l-r, view experimental plants on the International Space Station.

It was “harvest day” aboard the International Space Station this week, as the Washington State University-led research project known as Final Frontier Plant Habitat yielded its small but highly anticipated first crop.

Astronauts A.J. (Drew) Feustel and Ricky Arnold, who are part of the Expedition 55 crew now residing on the space station, provided the world with video documentation of the plants they’ve been growing in a weightless environment, and posted it on Twitter.

Norman G. Lewis, a Regents professor at WSU’s Institute of Biological Chemistry, is leading the $2.3 million NASA-funded initiative.

Astronauts will need to be able to grow plants for food and oxygen in order to conduct long-term space missions to other planets. To make this possible, scientists first need to develop a greater understanding of how plants will adapt to the harsh and weightless environment of outer space.

Plants enclosed in an oven-like cube.
Plants grown in weightless environment prove unusual.

The harvested plants are being be sent back to Earth, where WSU researchers and other scientists will analyze how microgravity conditions have affected their growth and development.

Feustel and Arnold launched into space in March 2018, and the Final Frontier Plant Habitat project followed in May.

Watch the video on Feustel’s Twitter account.

Read the full story on the WSU-led Final Frontier Plant Habitat.

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