LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Another imperative first has been accomplished in space, thanks to the crew on board the International Space Station.
For the first time in history, man has eaten food grown exclusively in low-earth orbit. In this case, the food was red romaine lettuce.
The value of this step in space-agriculture is that NASA’s eventual manned journey to Mars may rely heavily on a crew’s ability to sustain themselves on food sown and harvested exclusively in the microgravity of space.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who is currently four-and-a-half months through a year-long mission on board the ISS, was among the crew members who took part in the experiment.
“It tastes good,” Kelly proclaimed, following a brief three-way toast with lettuce leaves in hand. “It kind of tastes like arugula.”
On previous missions, food grown in space had been brought back to Earth to be extensively studied and examined. However, as Kelly states, mankind’s future in space is dependent on the ability to produce nutrition remotely.
“Ff we’re ever going to go to Mars someday, and we will, but whenever that is, we’re going to have to have a spacecraft that is much more self-sustainable with regards to its food supply,” Kelly shared.
The lettuce was sanitized with special wipes, consumed raw, then more was dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and tried again.
In addition to the benefits for crew members in space, the presence of vegetation aboard the spacecraft may provide pneumatic advantages through the production of oxygen. Furthermore, the data provided by the consumable plants may provide additional knowledge to agriculture here on Earth.
Another advantage, equally important to crew members, is the psychological relief astronauts may enjoy when they have the ability to consume food that has never been packaged or bagged. It is suggested that this may aid the crew in reminding them of home.