The Veggie vegetable production system was launched to the International Space Station with three sets of test plants for an initial hardware validation test, designated VEG-01. VEG-01A and B featured the crop ‘Outredgeous’ red romaine lettuce, while VEG-01C tested ‘Profusion’ zinnia plants for longer duration growth and flowering characteristics. Irrigation of plants in all three growth studies presented a challenge, with lettuce suffering from inadequate water and zinnia suffering from excess water. Direct plant pillow watering by crew members enabled plant growth, and returned samples from the first crop, VEG-01A, indicated that food safety was acceptable. VEG-01B plants at harvest were split to allow for on-orbit crew consumption as well as science sample return. Direct-watered zinnias suffered fungal growth and other physiological stresses, but two plants survived and these produced numerous flowers. The VEG-01 series allowed a large amount of data on system performance, human factors, procedures, microbiology, and chemistry of space-grown plants to be gathered. Observations from these tests are helping to drive future hardware modifications and provide information on food crop growth and development in a microgravity environment.
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