NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have recently been successful in reaping their first harvest which was none other than red romaine lettuce leaves. The vegetables were reportedly grown using a plant growth system on board the ISS. This method was part of the space agency's technique called "cut-and-come-again." NASA authorities have explained that their team had been constantly trying to determine if the vegetable is a viable source of fresh food that can be grown and eaten in space.
Space Lettuce In NASA's Menu
In one of NASA's statements revealed by the International Business Times, the "cut-and-come-again" has been noted as a repetitive harvest technique in which a selection of leaves can be harvested for a bit of fresh lettuce and possibly science samples. The technique's aim was found to target the improvement of crop yield that is being grown in the micro-gravity environment of space, where plant roots grow every which way, making it excruciatingly difficult for them to absorb the nutrients and water they need to survive.
As per CNet, earth-based Veggie project manager Nicole Dufour explained that during their first week of life, the small seedlings were getting too much water. Allegedly, it was found that NASA's very own "space gardener" Shane Kimbrough has successfully harvested several batches of fresh lettuce, while carefully tending the tiny plants and troubleshooting their moisture and nutrient needs along the way.
Ultimately, with the use of the said technique, NASA expects a total of four harvests of red romaine lettuce. It was found that the yields from these harvests will be split between samples for science return and crew consumption. Furthermore, Dufour adds that the repetitive harvest allows us to provide more food for both the crew and for science, so it's a win-win situation.