Potential Evolution of Crop Production in Space Using Veggie
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Historically, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) proposed large chambers to support crop production for food production in closed or partially closed regenerative life support systems. Such concepts relegate crop production, aside from small facilities deemed “salad machines,” to the indefinite future because they require large commitments of infrastructure to enable and support. Significantly, recent NASA mission architectures propose gradually placing capabilities in desirable locations by combining assets from earlier visits. An approach for producing crops might also build up greater capabilities over time. The analyses here consider combining multiple Vegetable Production Systems (Veggies) like the one on the International Space Station (ISS) to provide an ever greater crop production capability. Initial installations might yield a salad per crewmember every other day, while much more capable facilities might provide complete closure for atmospheric revitalization as well as about sixty percent of the crew’s food on a dry mass basis. New technologies for plant growth systems and volume optimization were considered. Sensitivity analysis was also performed to determine what improvements to the physical and biological component performance would provide the most benefit to the system.