Growing healthy food in space and in remote areas

Living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle can be a challenge for all of us, but it can be especially difficult in remote areas on Earth—and also in space. As part of plans to send astronauts farther into the solar system, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) is working with its partners to learn how to grow healthy food in harsh environments, both in space and on Earth.

Background

Astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) receive shipments of fresh food every few months. These deliveries supplement their menu, adding variety and nutrition—important factors in keeping crewmembers healthy and happy. But as missions venture to more distant destinations like the Moon or Mars, astronauts will need to be more self-sufficient. Greater distances will make resupply trips less frequent or impossible. Instead, space travellers will need to develop "green thumbs" to grow their own food in space.

Veggie PONDS experiment – David Saint-Jacques aboard the International Space Station

CSA astronaut David Saint-Jacques performs a reservoir fill on the Veggie Ponds facility in the Columbus module of the ISS. The goal is to demonstrate plant growth in a newly developed growing system. (Credit: CSA/NASA)

Space food must be compact and lightweight, as well as nutritious and tasty! Food is selected and packaged to last the entire duration of a mission. Astronauts enjoy a balanced diet during their stay in space with menus that contain between 1900 and 3200 calories per day, depending on the needs of each crewmember.

Objectives

As a partner in the US-led Lunar Gateway, the CSA is preparing to feed the astronauts of the future, and exploring ways for Canada to become a critical partner in advanced food production systems on the surface of the Moon by the mid-2030s.

 Impacts on Earth

Learning to grow food in extreme or hostile environments like space is a challenge that many of Canada's northern communities also face. The CSA is exploring ways of using space technology to help improve the accessibility of fresh food across the country, including the North.

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