Redwire, an aerospace manufacturer, is working on a greenhouse capable of growing plants from seed to maturity in space, which it says is “critical” for future space exploration.
The greenhouse is scheduled to launch in spring next year. It will be the first-ever commercially owned and operated plant growth platform in the International Space Station.
Redwire expects Dewey Scientific, an agriculture technology company, to be its first client to cultivate crops in the space greenhouse. During a 60-day experiment, it will grow industrial hemp and carry out a gene expression study to advance biomedical and biofuel research.
“Growing full crops in space will be critical to future space exploration missions as plants provide food, oxygen and water reclamation,” Dave Reed, a project manager at Redwire, said in a statement.
The experiment should provide key insights for future space exploration missions, including NASA’s Artemis, which aims to send astronauts back to the Moon and establish a lunar colony as a precursor to sending humans to Mars.
Larger greenhouses, adaptable to other crops, are in the works next, Redwire says. The company also expects the project to further scientific research that could help improve crop production back on Earth.
The space greenhouse is being developed through an award from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. It is among the latest government-supported initiatives in preparation for deep space travel, including developing a surgery-performing robot and plans for a nuclear power plant on the Moon.
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