About a month ago, we talked about astronauts aboard the ISS harvesting the first crop of radishes grown in space. Being able to grow radishes in space is a big deal as astronauts will require food they can grow on their own for longer duration missions away from the Earth. The first crop of radishes were packed up to be sent back to researchers on the ground. However, the astronauts were recently able to eat some of the radishes they’ve grown aboard the ISS.
The radishes were grown from seeds over the last 27 days in the microgravity of orbit as part of NASA’s attempt to develop space agriculture. Since the crew aboard the ISS typically eats foods that have been turned into a paste, the availability of fresh produce was very welcome. Astronaut Kate Rubins said that the radishes grown aboard the ISS were just as tasty as the ones she grew in her garden back home.
Rubins harvested the radishes last Thursday after clipping off the leaves to preserve material for study on Earth. Both she and fellow astronaut Mike Hopkins said eating something fresh while aboard the ISS was “a most enjoyable experience.” The astronauts weren’t allowed to eat the radishes harvested previously.
According to NASA, radishes grown aboard the space station are cleaner than anything shoppers could purchase at the store. For longer duration missions to the moon or Mars, growing food will be critical to survival. Nineteen radishes were harvested in the second crop aboard the space station, and the crew was allowed to eat nine. The other ten radishes were frozen to return to Earth for analysis.
The produce is grown in a bed of clay balls that retain moisture and fertilizer with artificial light simulating the sun. The chamber they’re grown in is known as the Advanced Plant Habitat and is about 20 inches square. NASA will attempt to grow different crops in the future, but exactly which hasn’t been decided yet.