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SpaceX will launch tomato seeds, other supplies to the space station

SpaceX will launch tomato seeds, other supplies to the space station
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CNN

SpaceX will try again this weekend to resupply the International Space Station after bad weather at the launch site forced the company to abort its first attempt.

The mission will lift off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:20 p.m saturday A backup launch window is set for 1:58 p.m. ET Sunday, should weather derail those plans again. The original lift off date was Tuesday.

Among the bounty of supplies on board are a pair of new solar arrays for the space station, dwarf tomato seeds and various science experiments. The space station will also serve astronauts ice cream and Thanksgiving fare such as spicy green beans, cranberry apple dessert, pumpkin pie and candy corn.

The solar arrays will be installed outside the floating laboratory during the spacewalk scheduled for November 29 and December 3. They The space station will give a power boost.

SpaceX has launched more than two dozen resupply missions to the space station over the past decade as part of a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA. This is the launch It has been SpaceX’s busiest year to date, with more than 50 operations to date, including two Astronaut mission

Cargo on board Includes a number of health-related items, eg Moon Microscope Kit. The portable handheld microscope will allow astronauts to collect and send images of blood samples to flight surgeons on the ground for diagnosis and treatment.

Nutrition is a key component to maintaining good health in space. But the space station has a smaller supply of fresh produce than the food astronauts eat during their six-month stay. Low-Earth Orbit.

“It’s pretty important to our exploration goals at NASA to not only be able to sustain the crew with nutrients but also to see a variety of plants as sources of nutrients that we’ll be hard pressed to find. to sustain long journeys between Mars and distant destinations like that,” said Kurt Costello, chief scientist of NASA’s International Space Station program and deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office.

Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chiles on the International Space Station. Now, crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes — specifically, red robin tomatoes — to their list of space-grown salad ingredients.

The experiment is part of an effort to provide continuous production of fresh food in space.

Dwarf tomato seeds will be grown under two different light treatments to measure the effect on tomato number as well as plant nutritional value and flavor. Red Robin tomatoes will also be grown in the ground as a control experiment. Two crops will be compared to measure the effect of a zero-gravity environment on tomato growth.

Space tomatoes will be grown inside small bags called plant pillows installed in a vegetable production system known as a veggie growth chamber on the space station. Astronauts will frequently water and nurture the plants.

“Tomato will be a new adventure for us in Veggie The team is trying to figure out how to water these thirsty plants well without overwatering them,” said Gioia Massa, NASA space crop production scientist and principal investigator of the tomato study.

Tomatoes will be ready for their first taste test in the spring.

The crew is waiting Tomatoes were harvested 90, 97 and 104 days after the plants started growing. During the taste test, the crew will evaluate the flavor, aroma, juiciness and texture of tomatoes grown using different light treatments. Half of each tomato crop will be frozen and returned to Earth for analysis.

Growing plants on the space station not only provides opportunities for fresh food and Creative Taco NightIt can also boost the crew’s mood during their long spaceflights.

The surveys will track the mood of the astronauts as they care for the plants and interact with them to see how the plants grow the crew. Experience the isolation of the space station.

The hardware to grow larger crops on the space station and eventually other planets is still in development, but scientists are already planning which plants will grow best on the Moon and Mars. A team at the beginning of this year Plants have successfully grown on lunar soil It included samples collected during the Apollo missions.

“Tomatoes are going to be a great crop for Moon,” Massa said. “They’re very nutritious, very tasty, and we think astronauts will be really excited to grow them up there.”

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