The space agency posted the video to YouTube on Monday, showing Expedition 44 astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren, and Kimiya Yui eating the lettuce grown in space, saying, “That’s awesome”.
This week, astronauts chowed down on the first food grown on the global Space Station: red romaine lettuce. The lettuce was grown for 15 months with a system called Veg-01, which uses red, blue, and green LED lights to grow plants in a small space.
The crew had to clean the lettuce with food-safe sanitizing wipes before consuming them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.
Scott Kelly, NASA astronaut who is doing one year of research in the ISS confirmed that it indeed “tastes good”, and in fact, “Kind of like arugula”. Last October, a bunch of the same vegetables have been harvested and have been sent to Earth to be tested for food safety and sanitation. Kelly activated the seed pillows on July 8, and then tended to the plants for 33 days before harvesting.
Fresh vegetables and fruits could be a welcomed addition to an astronaut’s diet since they’re normally forced to eat packaged food in space.
The seeds were planted in special rooting pillows containing fertilizer and soil with a unique irrigation system as water can not be poured in zero gravity.
There was no word on whether crew members have been “unofficially” sneaking some space-grown snacks.
Besides, gardening is fun on Earth, and NASA said astronauts likely will use it as a recreational activity on long missions.
They also plan to share their lettuce meal with their fellow cosmonaut crewmembers now outside the Space Station conducting a spacewalk. Growing fresh food also helps to recycle the air in spacecraft, converting carbon dioxide exhaled by the astronauts back to oxygen. “But the quantity is limited and must be consumed quickly”, says Dr. Gioia Massa, the NASA scientist working on the vegetable project at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Still, half the crew’s harvest will be sent back to Earth for more testing.
“I think that plant systems will become important components of any long-duration exploration scenario”.