If you’re an astronaut space, the food that is available to you is not fresh. Food is prepackaged and freeze-dried for longevity, meant to sustain and nourish the flight crew for weeks at a time. However, on the International Space Station, the astronauts got something they have never had before in space.
Fresh, crisp, red romaine lettuce.
This was made possible by NASA’s Vegetable Production System (Veggie) which is geared to bring vegetables to space by controlling temperature and carbon dioxide within the cabin to utilize growth on board.
This was possible through something called the “pillow” method. Since there is no gravity in space, water can’t be pulled to the roots of a plant. The pillow method uses a clump of aerated clay which becomes the structure for roots to spread, even in zero gravity!
Also, to ventilate the plants and give them wind, fans are continuously circulating the aircraft. Artificial lights are also added to keep the lettuce on a regular sunlight schedule.
Before eating the leafy greens, the astronauts made sure to clean off all bacteria from the lettuce with citric acid-based, yet food-safe sanitizing wipes.
This is a huge step for space travel and astronauts. As of now, they are looking to grow cabbages, cherry tomatoes and potatoes as they continue to explore this new method of space farming.