Astronaut in the International Space Station illuminated by fuchsia light emanating from a plant chamber growth device on the left side.  The device is box-shaped with two rows of black threes

Productivity, Nutritional Value and Acceptability of Pick-and-Eat Salad Crops to Supplement the ISS Food System (Veg-05)

Scientific objectives

The Pick-and-Eat Salad-Crop Productivity, Nutritional Value, and Acceptability to Supplement the ISS Food System (Veg-05) survey is the next step in efforts to address the need for a continuous food production system cool in space. Healthy, nutritious food is essential for long-duration exploration missions, which means that the typical pre-packaged diet of astronauts may need to be supplemented with fresh food during the flight; the vegetable production system (Veggie) began to be tested on board the International Space Station to help meet this need, and leafy greens were successfully grown in spaceflight. Veg-05 research expands crop variety to bush tomatoes and focuses on impact of light and fertilizer quality on fruit production, microbial food safety, nutritional value, taste acceptability by the crew and the overall behavioral health benefits of having fresh plants and produce. food in space.


Delivery to the International Space Station via the SpaceX-26 Commercial Resupply Service mission.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough grows lettuce in Veggie on the International Space Station.

Description of the experience

Pick-and-eat Salad-crop Productivity, Nutritional Value, and Acceptability to Supplement the ISS Food System (Veg-05) is a hybrid survey with plant research, as well as organoleptic and human behavioral research. The investigation, which is the second half of an investigation that began with Veg-04, is sponsored by the Human Research Program, but is implemented in partnership with the biological and physical sciences. The Veg-05 team includes researchers from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Purdue University and Sierra Space.

For this study, lettuces (leafy greens for Veg-04 and dwarf tomatoes for Veg-05) are grown in the Veggie units during spaceflight, focusing on the impact of light quality and formulation. fertilizers on crop morphology, edible biomass yield, microbial food safety, organoleptic acceptability, nutritional value and behavioral benefits of fresh produce. The first phase of the project (Veg-04) involves flight trials using Mizuna Mustard, a leafy green crop previously selected through a series of research trials as a suitable candidate. The second phase (Veg-05) focuses on growing dwarf tomatoes. Flight definition tests evaluated different red to blue light recipes and fertilizer formulations for optimal growth of these ground crops. Two light treatments with different red/blue ratios are tested for each culture on the ISS. This survey should help define the clear colors, levels, and best horticultural practices for achieving high yields of safe and nutritious leafy greens and tomatoes to supplement a space diet of prepackaged foods. A duplicate ground study provides a comparison with plants grown on the ISS to determine the effects of spaceflight.

Space applications

Future crewed exploration missions, such as missions to Mars, may require a fresh food supply to supplement pre-packaged crew meals. The ability to grow nutritious and tasty food for crew consumption during spaceflight has the potential to not only provide healthy and nutritious meals, but also to enhance the dietary and living experience. Crop bio-regeneration reduces launch mass, a necessity for longer duration missions. The Veg-05 survey should help define clear colors and best horticultural practices for obtaining high yields of safe and nutritious bush tomatoes to supplement a space diet of pre-packaged foods and to assess the psychological impacts that growing plants might have on the astronauts.

Land applications

Urban sprawl encroaching on traditional farms and increasing population have added to the need for additional food production. The results of Veg-05 should contribute to fundamental research on growing plants in controlled environments, focusing in particular on the importance of light colors in growth, and this increased understanding could translate into improved research efforts. agricultural and biomass production on Earth. As the equipment used for this investigation resembles a miniature greenhouse, the equipment could be suitable for horticultural therapy for the elderly or disabled, or for people who live without access to a yard and who otherwise could not benefit from the results of the fresh produce from a garden.

Related links

Space station research explorer

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