Cambridge Science Centre


One small bite for man, one giant meal for mankind

Written on 21 Aug 2015 in Blog

Astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS) have taken their first bites of space-grown lettuce in what has been described as another step towards longer human space missions. The idea of growing and harvesting on board the ISS is part of NASA’s vegetable experiment to make space stations more self-sustainable for longer missions.

What was the verdict? Astronauts Scott Kelly gave it the thumbs up and likened it to the peppery leaf, rocket – how apt. If cosmonauts are able to grow their own food in space, they are more likely to survive the harshness of deep space exploration that could last months, or even years.

The lettuce seeds are contained in rooting pillows and grow for around 33 days before they can be harvested. Half of the current crop will be packaged and frozen on the station until it can be returned to Earth for scientific analysis.

Fresh food on board spacecrafts could provide valuable health benefits for astronauts who generally rely on packaged food that can endure the conditions of space. Later this year, Major Tim Peake will be eating meals inspired by celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal and British school children during his six month mission with ISS. The special menu consists of dishes such as a three course Rocket Lolly consisting of tomato soup, a curry and Eton mess!

Cambridge Science Centre has been chosen as one of 20 centres across the UK to join forces with Tim Peake to deliver Destination Space, an initiative to provide children across the UK with a unique opportunity to learn about human space flight and life on ISS through hands-on experiments, space equipment and rocket demonstrations.

Join our rocket expert, Jon London at our Table Top Rocket events taking place throughout the summer as part of our COSMIC exhibition.