SpaceX is flying coffee and hemp plants to space

15 January 2020


Will coffee beans grown in the endless expanse of outer space taste any different? We will soon find out. Colorado-based agricultural company Front Range Biosciences is partnering with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies to send plant tissue culture from coffee and hemp up into Outer Space next year. The 480 samples will be packed aboard a March 2020 SpaceX cargo flight and remain in space for 30 days.

According to a press release, the purpose of this inter-space journey is to see how the cultures will (or will not) mutate in zero-gravity aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Scientists will track whether any mutations will stick once the plants are brought back down to earth.

This will be one of the first times that a company gathers data on the effects of space travel on hemp and coffee cell cultures. Through the experiment, Front Range Biosciences hopes to learn more about how plants can adapt to climate change.

Coffee especially is a temperamental crop and threatened by more extreme weather conditions, like rising temperatures and drought, caused by climate change. To combat that companies are experimenting with new techniques to create more resistant coffee crops, from CRISPR gene editing to, apparently, space mutations.

The Colorado company may be the first to do concrete data on hemp and coffee plants in outer space, but Front Range Biosciences is far from the first company to launch food into zero-gravity conditions. Earlier this year Dubai startup Space Roasters claimed it would create optimal java by roasting beans in space, but now its website is an unrelated roasting blog, so I am guessing that… did not work out. Japan’s Space Food X has an entire initiative figuring out how to feed people in zero gravity. And just last month a dozen bottles of Bordeaux were sent to the ISS for twelve months of intergalactic aging.

It is still early days in the field of space agricultural experimentation, and Front Range Biosciences is just beginning its intergalactic plant tissue tests. But I for one can not wait to sample a cup of joe made from interstellar beans. Far out.

Published by on December 27, 2019
Image from Shutterstock


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