A bit of hemp in space

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The American company Redwire Corporation is preparing to grow hemp on the International Space Station.

The Redwire greenhouse could be launched in the spring of next year. According to the company, it is the only commercial plant cultivation platform capable of growing from seed to maturity in space.

During this mission, Redwire customer Dewey Scientific will grow industrial hemp in the greenhouse for a 60-day experiment for a gene expression study. Dewey Scientific is a cannabis-focused company that seeks to increase crop efficiency and yield while reducing inputs.

“We work at the intersection of classical breeding and molecular biology,” the company states.

The hemp experiment is just the first step according to Redwire.

“Redwire Greenhouse will expand opportunities for scientific discovery to improve plant production on Earth and enable essential research for plant production in space to benefit future long-duration human spaceflight,” said Dave Reed of Redwire.

“In addition to improving crops on our own planet, this is something that will also be essential in space, as humanity heads for the stars – not just for food, but also for the recovery of oxygen and water. »

“Increasing the throughput of plant production research in space, through commercially developed capabilities, will be important in providing critical information to NASA’s Artemis missions and beyond,” said Reed.

Under the Artemis program, NASA is working with commercial and international partners to establish a long-term sustainable presence on the Moon in preparation for missions to Mars.

This is not Redwire’s first contact with the ISS. Its Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) devices, developed in partnership with Tupperware Brands, are already working on the space station. PONDS was developed for NASA’s vegetable production system, named Veggie.

It won’t be the first time hemp has been taken into space either. Officially, this happened in 2019 when hemp seeds grown in Kentucky were taken to the ISS to assess seed stability after prolonged exposure to microgravity conditions.

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