NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Centre in Florida the third week of November, 2016. The engineering development unit arrived by truck, was offloaded and transported to a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility. 

Inside the lab, NASA engineers, and scientists and technicians on the Engineering Services Contract will train with the test unit to learn how to handle and assemble it before the actual APH unit arrives early next year.

They also will test how the science integrates with the various systems of the plant habitat.
International Space Station (ISS) has been planted with lettuce by NASA. It is done to learn how to grow fresh food in space and it may also help prepare astronauts for future mission to Mars. The Veg-03 experiment was initiated by NASA astronaut Shane Kimborough. This was one of his first science assignments as a new crew member aboard the orbiting laboratory. (Image: NASA)

Check out Prototype of Space Station's Advanced Plant Habitat here:

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

The unit is a closed-loop system with a controlled environment than can house large plants. The system will use red, green and blue LED lights, similar to the Veggie growth system that is currently on the International Space Station. The APH also has the capability of using white LEDs and infrared light.

The APH unit  will have 180 sensors and four times the light output of Veggie. The small-scale experiment, called Plant Habitat 1 or PH01, will contain Arabidopsis seeds, small flowering plants related to cabbage and mustard. PH01 and the APH unit will be delivered to the space station in 2017. (Image: NASA)

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

A high fidelity test version of NASA’s Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), the largest plant chamber built for the agency, arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida last week. The engineering development unit arrived by truck, was offloaded and transported to a laboratory at the Space Station Processing Facility.

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

The giant growhouse contains 180 sensors, artificial LED lighting and is four times the size of the ‘Veggie’ system, which has been used to grow varieties of lettuce on board the low Earth orbit station.

Initial tests with the prototype will involve plants to related to cabbage, as well as mustard seeds, NASA explained in a blog post.

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

In its most recent ‘Veggie’ experiment, Veg-03, astronauts have been using a smaller environmental control chamber to cultivate cabbage.

During the 28-day cultivation, seeds are planted in calcined clay similar to the soil used on baseball fields, with the growing process then documented daily through photographs and microbial sampling.

 NASA's ‘largest plant chamber’ tested at Kennedy Space Center before International Space Station delivery

The US space agency originally launched the first phase of the space vegetable “validation” program in 2014, describing food safety as a “primary goal.”

The current Veg-03 project is scheduled to conclude in February 2017.