Sustained Salad Crop Production Requirements for Lunar Surface 2009-01-2381
A long-duration lunar outpost will rely entirely upon imported or preserved foods to sustain the crew during early Lunar missions. Fresh, perishable foods (e.g. salad crops) would be consumed by the crew soon after delivery by the re-supply missions, and can provide a supplement to the diet rich in antioxidants (bioprotectants) that would serve as a countermeasure to radiation exposure. Although controlled environment research has been carried out on the growth of salad crops under a range of environmental conditions, there has been no demonstration of sustainable production in a flight-like system under conditions that might be encountered in space. Several fundamental challenges that must be overcome in order to achieve sustained salad crop production under the power, volume and mass constraints of early Lunar outposts include; growing multiple species, sustaining productivity through multiple plantings, and minimizing time for crew operations. In addition, issues associated with nutrient replenishment, maintenance of water balance, and environmental compatibility need to be addressed. A project has been initiated in the Space Life Sciences Laboratory at Kennedy Space Center to address these questions using two salad production chambers that were built for flight operation as a part of a small business innovative research program (SBIR) Phase 2 grant.