Seed World

Farming in Space: Is it Possible?

In December, three twelfth-grade students from Germany will see their research blast-off to the International Space Station. Their research focuses on the ability to produce large quantities of quality vegetables on a space station. Under normal gravitational conditions, cuttings can be used to reproduce plants.
If cuttings could be used for the reproduction of plants in microgravity, this would be a major step forward in the effort to supply long-term space flights with food from space farming. The question the students are attempting to answer is simple but groundbreaking: Can cuttings grow their own root system without gravity to guide them?
The student research team is developing an experimental design. BASF is providing knowledge on how to keep the plants healthy and free from fungal disease during the 30 days in the ISS environment. The students will do an internship with experts at the BASF Agricultural Center in Limburgerhof, Germany, before conducting trials at Kennedy Space Center laboratories in Florida.