A greenhouse satellite of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with which the cultivation of tomatoes and other vegetables on the Moon or Mars is to be tested, has successfully launched into space. Two greenhouses have been orbiting the earth since Monday.
"EuCROPIS" was launched last Monday from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in the US, aboard a rocket of private space company SpaceX, according to a combined statement of SpaceX and the DLR. EuCROPIS is designed to test life support systems that are central to providing space travelers with future long-term missions to the Moon and Mars. On board the satellite there are two greenhouses where small space tomatoes are supposed to grow during the mission.
The first stage of the rocket, which was used for a second time, landed successfully on a special rescue ship in the Pacific. Previously, the launch had to be postponed several times.
According to DLR, the life support systems on board the satellite include two greenhouses, biofilters, dwarf tomato seeds, single-celled algae and synthetic urine. The seeds are supposed to germinate in space. By successfully converting the urine into a fertilizer solution, the tomatoes should then grow under the watchful eyes of cameras.
The roughly one cubic meter tall satellite, weighing 230 kilogram, was developed and built by the DLR and the Friedrich Alexander University Nuremberg-Erlangen. EuCROPIS is controlled by the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) in Oberpfaffenhofen, which had the first radio contact with the satellite about 75 minutes after the launch, on Monday evening.
In the next two weeks, the GSOC will now test all functions of the satellite in space. In about seven weeks, the researchers can then put the first of the two greenhouses in operation. Shortly after, the first tomatoes will be planted.