Fresh vegetables on space bases. How this will also save the planet

Having a healthy and correct diet with fresh vegetables and “zero kilometer” products is a right of astronauts. Not only. In addition to providing food, plants will play a significant role in long-duration space missions by purifying water and air. The increase in distance from the earth, the size of the crew, the duration of the mission, the goal of having bases on the Moon and Mars and bringing tourists into space, will require the cultivation of fresh vegetables in zero gravity ever and ever.

Sierra Space, NASA’s proposal

There are numerous experiments, studies and start-ups that use innovative solutions to grow plants in extreme environments and in microgravity.

Sierra Space, a NASA-sponsored team of scholars, is developing a vertical greenhouse prototype called Astro Garden. This is an experimental growing system suitable for producing vegetables for a team of 4. The system uses hydroponic and aeroponic techniques to grow plants without using soil but through the recycling of nutrients, which could allow large-scale production in flexible spaces. The system will be tested through XROOTS. This is a high-tech module equipped with software to control plant growth in the space station’s zero-gravity environment.

Hydroponic and aeroponic techniques can provide a valid alternative to creating an efficient and capable cultivation system.

NASA astronauts test nurseries in space bases with the new astrogarden system
Astro Garden NASA website

An Italian is among the most innovative proposals.

Germany and Italy have already studied similar solutions as well as numerous private start-ups. The Genoese startup SpaceV (Space Vegetables) glimpsed the business of ‘space vegetables’. Among its members, there is also Franco Malerba, the first Italian in space. Malerba and his partners have developed an adaptive greenhouse for the cultivation of plants. This will allow having fresh vegetables in orbit or on the Moon and Mars. The strong point of this vertical greenhouse is the adaptive levels, which allow for an increase in the production, in a small volume, of various types of plants. With a considerable saving of energy and other resources. With the size of a large refrigerator, the greenhouse is managed by an artificial intelligence system. This efficiently and optimally manages energy, ventilation and total control of the environment, level and distance of each individual shelf as the plants grow.

Italian SpaceV nurseries with veggies in space bases
SpaceV Veggies

A field where job opportunities are growing.

Moreover, it would not be the first time that products born for space research end up becoming objects of daily use. Just think of fireproof fabrics, thermoregulators, much medical equipment and much more.

In this field, as in that of the entire space economy and space biotechnology, the business and professional opportunities are enormous with significant margins for growth.

Sidi’s School of Disruption has devised the world’s first on-demand study course on space biotechnology, designed to provide participants with the necessary knowledge to enter a market with infinite potential. The course, available from March 2022, is divided into 30 lessons always available online once enrolled. At the end of the lessons, it will be possible to download the certificate of the School of Disruption, recognized by the Swiss Institute for Disruptive Innovation and by the European Center for Space Exploration and Colonization. The course is aimed at engineers, biologists, geneticists, students and all those who want to become pioneers in this area of ​​research.

The course will be held by Armando Azua-Bustos, an environmental microbiologist and internationally renowned researcher with over 30 publications in scientific journals, with a long experience in field and laboratory research. He has obtained one of the most prestigious awards of the Human frontiers science program, the prestigious TED fellowship, and has collected more than one hundred publications in international magazines such as Forbes, National Geographic and Scientific American.

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