HEMP cultures have been fired into space to see how they react to a zero-gravity environment.
Around 480 hemp and coffee cultures were carried on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket for cultivation in the International Space Station in early March.
Provided by Front Range Biosciences their growth will be monitored remotely, and they will returned to earth for analysis.
Front Range, SpaceCells and BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, are behind the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight.
The backers say the advent of private space travel has opened up a new area known as ‘new space’, which allows researchers to study the effects of micro-gravity on a variety of organisms.
With the earth’s climate subject to fluctuations the research will look at how crops can thrive in a scenario of shifting temperatures.
BioServe says it will work with the NASA astronauts to execute the experiment, with the cultures being monitored remotely from its payload operations center in Boulder.
Dr. Jonathan Vaught, Co-Founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences said science supports the theory that ‘plants in space experience mutations’.
Adding: “This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”
Peter McCullagh, CEO of SpaceCells, said: “These are big ideas we’re pursuing and there’s a massive opportunity to bring to market new Chemotypes, as well as plants that can better adapt to drought and cold conditions.
“We expect to prove through these and other missions that we can adapt the food supply to climate change.”
The International Space Station is a $100bn science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles above Earth.
Permanently staffed it conducts research into space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.