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Life in Space

Astronauts have, for the first time ever, enjoyed a ‘home-grown’ snack in space.

A crop of red romaine lettuce has been growing aeroponically on the International Space Station for the last month.

Aeroponically-grown plants grow in an air or mist environment – rather than in soil. The plants require much less water and fertiliser, and grow up to three times faster than plants grown in soil.

For decades, NASA and other agencies have been experimenting with plants in space, but this is the first time astronauts have eaten their harvest, rather than sending it back to Earth for examination.

The lettuce was first cleaned with citric acid-based sanitising wipes. The astronauts then tried the leaves raw before eating them with extra virgin olive oil and Italian balsamic vinegar.

Astronaut Scott Kelly gave the lettuce the thumbs-up, saying it tasted a bit like rocket.

‘If we’re ever going to go to Mars,’ Kelly said, ‘we’re going to need a spacecraft that is much more sustainable. Having the ability for us to grow our own food is a big step in that direction.’

Watch Life in Space to learn more about both the challenges and also possibilities of life growing in space.