SpaceX launches tomato seeds, other supplies to International Space Station

Nov 26, 2022, 1:51 PM
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft atop is seen as Space X and NASA....
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft atop is seen as Space X and NASA prepare for the launch of the Crew-5 mission, on October 04, 2022 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
(Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

(CNN) — SpaceX is carrying a fresh haul of supplies to the International Space Station this weekend after bad weather at the launch site forced the company to wave off its first attempt.

The mission took off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida around 2:20 p.m. ET Saturday. The original liftoff date had been Tuesday.

The bounty of supplies on board includes a pair of new solar arrays for the space station, dwarf tomato seeds and a range of science experiments. There will also be treats for the astronauts on the space station, like ice cream and Thanksgiving fare like spicy green beans, cranberry apple desserts, pumpkin pie and candy corn.

The solar arrays will be installed outside the floating laboratory during spacewalks scheduled for November 29 and December 3. They will give the space station a power boost.

SpaceX has launched more than two dozen resupply missions to the space station over the past decade as part of a multibillion-dollar deal with NASA. This launch comes amid SpaceX’s busiest year to date, with more than 50 operations so far, including two astronaut missions.

The cargo on board includes a number of health-related items, such as the Moon Microscope kit. The portable handheld microscope will allow astronauts to collect and send images of blood samples to flight surgeons on the ground for diagnostics and treatment.

Tomatoes in space

Nutrients are a key component of maintaining good health in space. But fresh produce is in short supply on the space station compared with the prepackaged meals astronauts eat during their six-month stays in low-Earth orbit.

“It is fairly important to our exploration goals at NASA to be able to sustain the crew with not only nutrition but also to look at various types of plants as sources for nutrients that we would be hard-pressed to sustain on the long trips between distant destinations like Mars and so forth,” said Kirt Costello, chief scientist at NASA’s International Space Station Program and a deputy manager of the ISS Research Integration Office.

Astronauts have grown and tasted different types of lettuce, radishes and chiles on the International Space Station. Now, the crew members can add some dwarf tomatoes — specifically, Red Robin tomatoes — to their list of space-grown salad ingredients.

The experiment is part of an effort to provide continuous fresh food production in space.

The dwarf tomato seeds will be grown under two different light treatments to measure the impact on the number of tomatoes that can be harvested as well as the plants’ nutritional value and taste. Red Robin tomatoes will also be grown on Earth as a control experiment. The two crops will be compared to measure the effects of a zero-gravity environment on tomato growth.

The space tomatoes will be grown inside small bags called plant pillows installed in the Vegetable Production System, known as the Veggie growth chamber, on the space station. The astronauts will frequently water and nurture the plants.

“Tomatoes will be a new adventure for us on the veggie team, trying to figure out how to keep these thirsty plants well watered without overwatering,” said Gioia Massa, NASA’s space crop production scientist and principal investigator for the tomato study.

The tomatoes will be ready for their first taste test in the spring.

The crew is expecting tomato harvests 90, 97 and 104 days after the plants begin to grow. During taste tests, the crew will rate the flavor, aroma, juiciness and texture of the tomatoes grown using the different light treatments. Half of each tomato harvest will be frozen and returned to Earth for analysis.

Growing plants on the space station not only provides the opportunity for fresh food and creative taco nights, it can also boost the mood of the crew during their long spaceflight.

Surveys will track astronauts’ moods as they care for and interact with the plants to see how nurturing the seedlings enhances the crew’s experience amid the isolation of the space station.

The hardware is still in development for larger crop production on the space station and eventually other planets, but scientists are already planning what plants might grow best on the moon and Mars. Earlier this year, a team successfully grew plants in lunar soil that included samples collected during the Apollo missions.

“Tomatoes are going to be a great crop for the moon,” Massa said. “They’re very nutritious, very delicious, and we think the astronauts will be really excited to grow them there.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Artic weather leads to canceled flights...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

More than 1,800 flights canceled Tuesday, hundreds more on Wednesday

More than 1,800 flights were canceled and many more were delayed on Tuesday as a brutal ice storm continued to hit parts of the South and central United States, bringing a second day of transport problems.
19 hours ago
The booking photo for Aaron Michael Zeman, also known as Tadashi Kura Kojima. ( Hall County Departm...
Michael Houck

Layton Amber Alert suspect charged with kidnapping, sexual exploitation of a minor

The Arizona man who is suspected of kidnapping a Layton boy has been charged with multiple felonies Tuesday. 
19 hours ago
Priscilla Presley speaks at the public memorial for Lisa Marie Presley at Graceland on January 22, ...
Andrew Dalton, Associated Press

Priscilla Presley disputes trust of late Lisa Marie Presley

Priscilla Presley has filed legal documents disputing who oversees the estate of her late daughter Lisa Marie Presley.
19 hours ago
This photo provided by the Dallas Zoo shows an emperor tamarins that lives at the zoo. Two monkeys ...
Andi Babineau and Elizabeth Wolfe

After monkeys stolen and animals enclosures cut open, Dallas Zoo releases photo of suspect

For the fourth time this month, the Dallas Zoo finds tampering with their animals and their enclosures, including one dead bird.
19 hours ago
A Qantas Boeing 747-400, registration VH-OEJ,  passes over Sydney's Eastern Suburbs as it departs S...
Gene Johnson, Associated Press

Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It's delivering its final 747 jumbo jet.
19 hours ago
Kyle Keith Martin, 31 years old, from Lowell, Oregon. (Elko County Sheriff's Office)...
Michael Houck

Kidnapping suspect in custody after leading Nevada police in car chase

An Oregon man is in police custody for possible kidnapping and other crimes committed across multiple states Monday.
19 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t Let a Ransomware Attack Get You Down | Protect Your Workplace Today with Cyber Insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
SpaceX launches tomato seeds, other supplies to International Space Station