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Space farms may soon become reality as NASA is conducting research into how to grow vegetables, fruits and plants in space. A team of scientists are working on space farming methods to feed astronauts on long haul missions and save on the issue of transporting lots of food when traveling as far as somewhere like Mars.
The team behind the project are working with hydroponic grow kits with the aim of creating space farms that will allow international stations to grow food in orbit. It's all part of NASA's work on their vision of the future of space exploration and one of their goals in 2012 is to develop approaches for sustained human exploration in space.
The system the researchers are working on is called a "bioregenerative life support system" and they believe it has several benefits. "If you continually resupply and deliver commodities like food it becomes much more costly than producing your own food," says Ray Wheeler, plant physiologist at Kennedy Space Center's Space Life Sciences Lab.
He adds: "It's not a quick-start kind of thing, you don't suddenly say, 'We need a bioregenerative system for the Moon because we want to stay there for 12 months, or five years. It takes a long time to build and evaluate these systems.
There are three main factors currently under investigation before evaluations can be done in zero gravity. Light, temperature and carbon dioxide and all major concerns when trying to grow plants in outer space.
This is surely a difficult task, even for NASA, but how far does it go ? It was only last year that the Japanese arm of the international pizza chain, Domino's, proposed a pizza shop on the Moon. Something they predicted would cost 13.4 billion pounds or around 20 billion dollars .
Obviously a fairly crazy PR stunt, but with Virgin Galactic proposing to send us all off to space on vacation very soon, how long is it before we see our first restaurant in space ? And how long then until we can have our first fine dining experience millions of miles away from the earth in zero gravity ?