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Vegetables from outerspace

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If "vegetables from outerspace" sounds like science fiction, I can assure you it isn't. NASA has announced that it will send astronauts to the International Space Station with growing kits to grow romaine lettuce there.

This December, NASA plans to launch a set of Kevlar pillow-packs developed by Orbital Technologies Corporation that are filled with a special planting material, and romaine lettuce seeds. The planting material is similar to kitty litter. Then, for the next 28 days, the lettuce will be grown under pink LED lights.

According to NASA, this first garden in space will not be consumed by the astronauts, but will be sent back to earth for analysis to determine if it is safe to eat. If this crop is harvested successfully, other vegetables, such as snap peas and radishes will be grown aboard the space station. Later, the program would be expanded to grow harder to raise crops.

The purpose of growing vegetables in space is to give astronauts on extended voyages in space sustainable food, and also cut back on the weight and costs of sending packaged food products into space. Modern Farmer Magazine reports that it costs about $10,000 a pound to send food on space missions.

Another factor in this experiment, is that plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, thus increasing the amount of available oxygen, while using up the carbon dioxide that now must be scrubbed from the air with machines.

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