Its “Outredgeous!” Forty Years After Skylab, NASA Astronauts Finally Eat Some Home Grown


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station participated in a surprising space first today. The event, eating food grown in space, was surprising not because it happened, but rather because it took this far into to space age, and in particular into the lifespan of the ISS for it to happen in the first place.

Carried live on NASA TV, the event featured astronauts Scott Kelly, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui sampling a small serving of “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce which was grown aboard ISS utilizing the the Veggie plant growth system.

The Veggie plant growth experiment, which uses different levels of LED light to spur plant seeds transported to orbit in specially designed media pads called “pillows, ” originally launched to ISS aboard the SpaceX-3 mission in 2014. Today’s feast may have been partially influenced by the loss of a return ride for this particular batch of lettuce as a result of the CRS-7 failure on June 28th.

After years of experimenting with plant growth aboard both Shuttle and ISS in which all the samples (at least officially) were brought back down to Earth for study,  NASA has recently committed to growing plants in space specifically for astronaut consumption. Although something of novelty for occupants aboard ISS, it will ultimately become a necessity for permanent space settlements.

Oddly however, it is a subject we know shockingly little about. While it does not necessarily follow that information gained about the peculiarities of growing food in zero-g will be directly translate to the different gravity environments on the Moon or Mars, the current campaign at least it marks a start. Unfortunately, further progress will have to wait a bit longer, as the casualty list for CRS-7 also included a shipment of cabbage pods featuring an improved watering system.

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Hopefully however, even with the supply line of fresh produce temporarily cut-off, it won’t come down to this.


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