Space-grown lettuce a hit with astronauts, and nutritionally identical to its earthly counterpart

space station red romaine lettuce exlarge

The astronauts floated around, expressing delight as they tasted something entirely unexpected in space. “Awesome! Tastes good! I like that! It’s fresh!” they said, between bites of the “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce. It was the first time astronauts were able to enjoy the fruits of their labor after growing produce from seeds and harvesting it.

Research about the lettuce experiment, which began in 2014, published [March 6] in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science to herald that space lettuce isn’t just tasty, it’s also safe to eat.

Researchers analyzed the red romaine lettuce crops from 2014 to 2016 and determined that lettuce grown in space is …. free of disease-causing microbes and as nutritious as lettuce grown on Earth.

Related article:  Viewpoint: How consumer fear and misguided regulation limit the progress of crop biotechnology

The first experiment happened in May 2014, not long after NASA’s first-ever Vegetable Production Systems growth chambers were delivered to the space station. The results from that first harvest were frozen and sent back to Kennedy Space Center for analysis.

Since then, a multitude of greens have been grown on the space station, and astronauts have been consuming some of the fruits of their space labor on the station ever since.

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