Space Farming

Grow fresh food for astronauts and tourists thanks to farming in space. Farming in space, space agriculture.

Updated: 2023-03-12

Created: 2018-11-01


Lots of experiments performed and planned. Small quantities tasted. NASA's Deep Space Food Challenge and overlap with terrestrial vertical farming has resulted in the popularity of this application.  Advanced Plant Habitat onboard ISS. Lettuce grown on the ISS is as nutritious as Earth harvests.


  • Fresh food for long term space missions.
  • Psychological effect from surrounding plants and greenery.
  • Microgravity enhanced genetic plant engineering for Earth.
  • Year-round self-contained crop growing systems for Earth (vertical farming).
  • More efficient food growing on Earth.

Why & Solution

Space gardening will be essential someday if space travelers are to go beyond low-Earth orbit or make more than a quick trip to the moon. They can’t carry on all the food they need, and the rations they do bring will lose nutrients. So astronauts will need a replenishable stash, with extra vitamins. They’ll also require ways to make more oxygen, recycle waste, and help them not miss home so much. Space gardens can, theoretically, help accomplish all of that.2

In order to improve astronauts’ well being on long-duration missions such as on a Moon base or on a mission to Mars, food plays an essential key role. Besides a source for nutrition, fresh food evokes through all the senses of smell, touch and taste memories of general happiness and home.1

The movement of heat, water vapor, CO2 and O2 between plant surfaces and their environment is also affected by gravity. In microgravity, these processes may also be affected by reduced mass transport and thicker boundary layers around plant organs caused by the absence of buoyancy dependent convective transport. Future space farmers will have to adapt their practices to accommodate microgravity, high and low extremes in ambient temperatures, reduced atmospheric pressures, atmospheres containing high volatile organic carbon contents, and elevated to super-elevated CO2 concentrations. Farming in space must also be carried out within power-, volume-, and mass-limited life support systems and must share resources with manned crews.3

Veggie and other systems aboard the space station are helping researchers figure out how radiation and lack of gravity affect plants, how much water is Goldilocks-good, and how to deal with deplorables like mold. Just as important, scientists are learning how much work astronauts have to put in, how much work they want to put in, and how plants nourish their brains as well as their bodies.2

Microgravity enhanced genetic plant engineering. In the low gravity environment of space, the transfer of genetic information from one kind of plant to another is enhanced due to lack of gravity induced buoyancy and convection effects.5

In 2020, NASA Selected Five Research Projects Designed to Improve Crop Habitats
In support of NASA’s goals for human exploration and sustained presence on the Moon and beyond, new spaceflight-based agriculture systems are needed to provide astronauts nutrition through freshly grown crop plants. NASA selected five teams of investigators to develop an improved water/nutrient delivery system and automated plant-spacing approaches for growing multiple generations of crop plants in spaceflight. 
Through a combination of space biology science and engineering, the selected projects will develop, test and verify new concepts for water and nutrient delivery sub-systems. Scientists will also study and test approaches for automatically changing the spacing between the growing plants to enable research in very confined spacecraft environments. These are two key elements for developing plant habitats that are compatible with the microgravity condition of spaceflight and limited available space for crop plant production in spacecraft and lunar surface human habitats. 
The following projects were selected for award:

  1. Design, monitoring and management approaches for the root-zone in microgravity.
  2. Microgravity crop production: Meeting the challenges of water/nutrient delivery, volume management, and providing diet diversity for the International Space Station.
  3. Evaluation of the porous tube and on-demand water and nutrient delivery systems for food production in microgravity.
  4. Staticaponics: Targeted electrostatic deposition of water and nutrients on plant roots.
  5. Variable plant spacing with astro garden nutrient delivery and recovery.

EneMiSInFood (Energy-efficient, Microwave-assisted Sterilisation of In- Space Food) is one of the winners of Space Exploration Masters and it is a microbiological safety solution for food produced in space. It uses a highly energy-efficient and compact technology to deactivate and destroy microorganisms that could degrade the quality, taste, and edibility of this biomass. The EneMiSInFood system could be used by astronauts in orbit for the microbiological deactivation of both food and food waste, as well as for microwave cooking in a future implementation. The most important value offered by the system is the compact, energy-efficient deactivation and destruction of microorganisms on space-grown food, which can enable storage without active refrigeration. The technology could also be transferred to energy-poor households/cases.


Aleph Farms page at Factories in Space

Aleph Farms' aim is to produce non-genetically modified food, which means using natural processes to grow meat to mimic the way it would develop in a cow.

Cells were taken from cows. Next, the small-scale muscle-tissue was placed under zero-gravity conditions and assembled in a 3D bioprinter. The technique could be used to feed astronauts in the space station in the future.

"In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 litres of water available to produce 1kg of beef," said Mr Toubia. “We are proving that cultivated meat can be produced anytime, anywhere, in any condition.”

Together with research partner at the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, Aleph Farms has successfully cultivated the world’s first slaughter-free ribeye steak, using three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technology and natural building blocks of meat — real cow cells, without genetic engineering and immortalization. With this proprietary technology developed just two short years after we unveiled the world’s first cultivated thin-cut steak in 2018 which did not utilize 3D bioprinting, we now have the ability to produce any type of steak and plan to expand our portfolio of quality meat products.

Unlike 3D printing technology, our 3D bioprinting technology is the printing of actual living cells that are then incubated to grow, differentiate, and interact, in order to acquire the texture and qualities of a real steak. 

Aleph Farms experiment was selected to be part of ‘Rakia’ Mission to space, led by the Ramon Foundation and the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology. One of 44 experiments to be chosen, it will be launched to the International Space Station as part of Axiom Space Ax-1 Mission, pending NASA and Axiom approval, together with the second Israeli in space, Eytan Stibbe, at the beginning of 2022.

This will be Aleph Farms’ second trip to space, following a successful ISS experiment in 2019. In this new experiment we will focus on tackling the challenge of cultivating the cells in microgravity. Aleph’s space program, Aleph Zero, builds upon our mission to produce quality meat locally, even in the most remote places on Earth with minimal natural resources. When people live on the Moon or Mars, Aleph Farms will be there as well.

Israeli foodtech startup Aleph Farms is a leader in the cultured lab-processed meat industry where it uses cow cells to produce meat in a lab, and has previously launched an experiment to space in 2019. Its experiment will test the potential of pluripotent stem cell differentiation of cattle and the formation of muscle tissue embedded in hydrogel, where astronauts will examine the rate of cell division in microgravity, and attempt to grow cow cells for cultured meat in space. Aleph Farms has partnered with SpacePharma, Indian Space Applications Centre, European space agencies, and scientific high tech startup accelerators.

Our space program, Aleph Zero, is part of our mission to produce quality, delicious meat, independent of climate or availability of natural resources.

Alginity page at Factories in Space

Autonomous food and oxygen supply at a lunar base.

Our adventurous bioreactor consists of the integration of all the parameters for algae growth and harvesting into a single control unit. Alginity will present a system that provides food while producing oxygen for astronauts.

The extreme demands of space will provide a great starting point for a new kind of bioreactor that can be used (following optimisation) for the pigment market, where the demand for high-value elements is currently undersupplied.

Bake In Space page at Factories in Space

Initial goal is to conduct a series of technology demonstrations related to the production of fresh bread aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

This entails recreating the value chain from growing grain to baking bread in micro-gravity. The experiment is split up into 5 phases, which will be realised on future astronaut missions to the ISS in order to advance our goal of food self-sustainability in space. Bake in Space will generate commercialisable spin-offs that will benefit us here on Earth.

  • Phase 1: Bake. Aug 2020. Demonstrate the baking of various crumb-free food items and bread samples through a space-ready oven.
  • Phase 2: Knead. Sep 2020. Demonstrate the kneading of flour with water to create raw dough in microgravity.
  • Phase 3: Grind. Jul 2021. Demonstrate the grinding of grain to flour in microgravity.
  • Phase 4: Harvest. Sep 2021. Demonstrate the harvesting and separation of plant and grain in microgravity.
  • Phase 5: Grow. Jul 2022. Demonstrate the growth of grain to create a regular supply of grain for three bread rolls.
  • Baking to Cooking. Jan 2023. Other food experiments related to cooking and baking in microgravity.

Bake In Space was a startup that sought to "address the scientific and technical challenges relating to the production of fresh food in space in order to improve the wellbeing and comfort of humans travelling beyond Low Earth Orbit."

Their mission is below:

In order to improve astronauts’ well being on long-duration missions such as on a Moon base or on a mission to Mars, food plays an essential key role. Besides a source for nutrition, fresh food evokes through all the senses of smell, touch and taste memories of general happiness and home.

Our initial goal is to conduct a series of technology demonstrations related to the production of fresh bread aboard the International Space Station (ISS). This entails recreating the value chain from growing grain to baking bread in micro-gravity. The experiment is split up into 5 phases, which will be realised on future astronaut missions to the ISS in order to advance our goal of food self-sustainability in space. Bake in Space will generate commercialisable spin-offs that will benefit us here on Earth.

Mission: Space Food (Astreas) page at Factories in Space

Combining Space and Food Science Technology with Experiential Design to Fuel Cosmic Exploration. Mission: Space Food is a consortium of space, food and technology experts creating an integrative approach to human nutrition in space.

Powered by Aleph Farm’s technology platform and Astrea’s culinary and engineering expertise, we design new space foods to help astronauts thrive in space.

Mission: Space Food is inventing the technology to enable multi-sensory pleasure of food in weightlessness, making meals more enticing and healthy for space crews.

In space, astronauts'​ senses of smell and taste are impeded, meaning that even recipes they typically love on earth tend to taste bland in zero gravity. More pleasurable food experiences can have important benefits for astronauts'​ overall wellbeing, health, and for collaboration among them.

To address this gap, Mission: Space Food is leveraging food science to develop the recipes and food technology to create enticing meals and snacks for astronauts. 

Redefining the multi-sensory pleasure of food in space. Scientific solutions to build healthy eating habits for life.

We're a food innovation company redefining the modern diet by creating next-generation products that don't compromise between great taste & nutrition.

NASA Deep Space Food Challenge

Phase 1 US winner receiving $25,000 from NASA.
Bio Culture. The project builds upon the proven and reliable pre-packaged food system but also leveraging the exciting new prospects of food production in space. The project will cultivate meat from pluripotent stem cells using cell cryopreservation and bioreactor. This method would allow crew to produce meat with almost x1,000 less inputs compared to pasture-based cattle farming. The system can be adapted to grow other meats such as pork or lamb, further expanding the choice of food proposed.

Orbital Farm page at Factories in Space

We develop large Closed Loop Farms to grow food + vaccines anywhere on Earth today and in Space tomorrow.

The future of food production is not about wide open pastures and reliance on steady stable climate, it's about climate independent agriculture, it's about farms that not only produce fresh fruits and veggies but also clean energy, fish, biopolymers, medicines, vaccines and cellular agriculture all while recycling every nutrient possible.

These farms recycle almost all the water and nutrients within the system so that they can grow food in deserts or northern climates which are the areas that are energy rich with renewable energy resources.

What types of Foods?

We will aim to grow all types of foods. As we look to build farms around the world, we can't just grow lettuce and basil. We must develop systems which can grow all types of crops, from rice to corn and even medicinal and nutraceutical plants. We need to develop climate independent growing systems to preserve all types of foods. Not all will begin today but each project we develop will have a uniqueness from the area of which it can contribute to the global knowledge pool.

Fish play an important role in our ecosystems as they are one of the most efficient converters of feed into food with healthy proteins and useful oils. In addition to a source of protein, the fish provide the nitrogen our plants require in the greenhouses.

Vegan Proteins
We will produce proteins in many forms, from Salmon and Trout to shrimp, to single cell proteins which can be blended into protein rich breads, pastas, or even using high moisture extrusion to be made into burgers and sausages. We will produce animal and fish feed products which will help to save the oceans from the fishmeal and fishing industries which aid in collapsing ocean ecosystems.

Cellular Agriculture
We will produce the nutrients which will enable the cellular agriculture industry to thrive, scale and grow.

Redwire page at Factories in Space

Redwire Space is accelerating humanity’s expansion into space by delivering reliable, economical, and sustainable infrastructure for future generations.

Space Food

Space infrastructure company Redwire Corporation will develop the only commercially owned and operated spaceflight-qualified plant growth platform in space, the so called Redwire Greenhouse, the company said. The platform is expected to launch to the ISS in spring 2023.

Science Missions

MVP-PLANT-01 - MVP-PLANT-01 is an investigation launching on SpaceX-24 that will use Redwire’s Multi-Use Variable-Gravity Platform (MVP) to profile and monitor shoot and root development of plants in microgravity to understand the regulatory mechanisms involved in plant responses to a novel environment. MVP-PLANT-01 can contribute designing plants to withstand extreme terrestrial environments and long-duration spaceflight. The investigation will also validate Redwire MVP Phytofuge experiment modules for future plant investigations on the ISS. The Phytofuge module is one of several different experiment modules developed for use in conjunction with the MVP facility. The modules were developed by Redwire engineers to enable early-stage seedling plant growth in a variable gravity environment.

Veggie PONDS-03R - Also launching on SpaceX-24 is Veggie PONDS-03R, a technology demonstration that explores how plants respond to microgravity and demonstrates technology for reliable vegetable production on orbit. This flight will also validate the Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) hardware, which was originally developed by Tupperware Brands and validated by recently acquired Techshot. The PONDS hardware is designed for flight inside NASA’s Vegetable Production System (Veggie) facility. PONDS can grow a wide variety of plants in space and requires far less monitoring and maintenance time from flight crews than other passive plant growth devices.

Unlocking the Cotton Genome to Precision Genetics - Also as part of the SpaceX-24 mission, Redwire is working with researchers from Clemson University to support the Unlocking the Cotton Genome to Precision Genetics (Plant Habitat-05) investigation, which will utilize the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), an automated plant growth facility managed by Redwire that is used to conduct bioscience research aboard ISS. The investigation will cultivate several cotton genotypes from cotton plant tissue cultures exposed to spaceflight. This project is sponsored by the ISS National Lab and stems from a previous Cotton Sustainability Challenge. The knowledge gained from the investigation could enable the growth of cotton plants that more efficiently use water and adapt to changing environments.

Solar Foods page at Factories in Space

Natural protein production anywhere by using air and electricity. 

We are introducing a game-changing natural protein for the global food industry. Produced from CO2, water, and electricity, our unique pure single-cell proteins are independent of agriculture, weather and the climate. They open a new world of unimaginable protein choices while creating new sustainable food diversity.

Manufactured Food. Single-cell protein production by means of gas fermentation.

The process takes a single microbe, one of the billion different ones found in nature, and grows it by fermenting it, which is also called a bioprocess. We feed the microbe like you would feed a plant, but instead of watering and fertilising it, we use mere air and electricity. With our current process, this is 20x more efficient than photosynthesis (and 200 times more than meat).

By using fermentation to grow protein, the bioprocess of our first protein product Solein® may not be traditional, but it is natural. And the best part? It won’t run out.

We are currently working on developing and building the first version of our bioreactor that would fit into a space vessel and produce Solein on mission. While our first commercial-scale facility Factory 01 will scale production up, the space vessel bioreactor is a prime example of how we can also scale down and recreate the bioprocess in much less space. When it comes to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) missions, a solution like this saves money: less rockets are fired up for supply runs leaving more resources and budget for other things.

One of the 11 finalists in Phase 2 of the Deep Space Food Challenge in January 2023.. NASA and CSA jointly recognized three international finalist teams from outside the U.S. and Canada.

SolSys Mining page at Factories in Space

We are developing systems for beneficiation of raw materials to enable agriculture, construction and production in space. Space Resource Beneficiation & Exo-agriculture systems.

We are developing beneficiation tools and systems that can be used in space to enable in-situ resource utilization.

Our goal is to supply this future sector with the tools needed for efficient extraction and processing of space resources.

Resource Processing

We are developing systems for beneficiation of raw materials to enable agriculture, construction and production in space. Transporting materials from Earth into space has a high cost, and to enable future missions and settlements in space resources already in space should be utilized when possible. To use resources that already exist in space, new technologies for comminution, screening, sorting and separation will have to be developed.

Agriculture Systems

We are researching the use of lunar regolith for plant nutrients in space agriculture. Growing plants for food and oxygen in space will be critical for future long-term missions to the moon. Many valuable plant nutrients already exist in lunar regolith, and we are developing systems for extracting these nutrients to use for hydroponic agriculture. In addition we have developed our own 3d-printed hydroponic growth systems.

The ‘Enabling Lunar In-Situ Agriculture by Producing Fertilizer from Beneficiated Regolith’ project, led by Solsys Mining with Norway’s Geotechnical Institute (NGI) and Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS), involves studying a combination of mechanical, chemical and biological processes to extract mineral nutrients from the regolith. Valuable elements might need concentrating before use, while undesirable ones would be removed.

The left of this artist’s impression shows a mechanical sorting area for the regolith, passing through to the central module for more advanced processing, such as chemical leaching. Finally extracted nutrients would be dissolved in water to be pumped to the hydroponic garden, right.

Space Lab Technologies page at Factories in Space

The purpose of Space Lab is to sustainably advance human space exploration through space science research and technology development.

Space Crop Production Systems

Space Lab® Café is a compact vertical farm that continuously produces a variety of nutritious produce with minimal water, power, waste or processing time. It operates with or without gravity, in a Lunar, Martian or spacecraft habitat, while providing farm-to-table solutions for Earth’s urban centers or remote, harsh environments.

Space V (Space-V, SpaceV) page at Factories in Space

Development of innovative greenhouses for the cultivation of plants in orbital stations and in future Martial and Lunar settlements.

Space V is an innovative start-up, a spin-off of the University of Genoa; it owns the international patents of the “Adaptive Multilayer Greenhouse” (AMG) architecture, which holds the promise of greatest efficiency in producing fresh vegetable food in space settlements.

SpaceV stands for Space Vegetables or Space Veg in short.

The distinctive feature of the AMG greenhouse is its capability of progressively moving the distance between the cultivation shelves of the vertical farm according to the level of plants growth, maintaining distinct microclimates for each shelf, thus maximizing the production yield per unit volume and unit time, greatly reducing the overall energy usage.

Vertical Adaptive Greenhouses Farm (VAGF) is a cutting-edge technology that has the potential to revolutionize agriculture in space.

Space Zab (SpaceZab) page at Factories in Space

Spinoff company from the futuristic research cluster of Thailand (FREAK lab). Our mission is to develop advance technology for deep space exploration and human living in space.

Our flagship technology is an award winning liquid/semi-liquid 3D printer for edible and non-edible materials in mid 2019 (with China Space Exploration), and 2020 (China Space Exploration).

Beyond our main technology, our experience and connections allow us to launch the payload design/research service as our side product. This provides opportunities for other companies and research institutes to work with us on space missions. We also provide on-ground simulated microgravity experiment for advanced researches using in-house designed clinostat or random positioning machine.  (CS-01)

We have developed advance technologies for space exploration. Our flagship product is the novel liquid/semi-liquid 3D printer for edible and non-edible materials for space, which take into account the micro-gravity effect on materials. Our technology will allow for the fabrication of precision/personalized food and medicine in space.

Space Naem

An investigation of Thai fermented pork (Naem) under microgravity condition in collaboration with FREAK lab, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi.


Weightlessness with just a click. Space often feels distant from us. Microgravity only feels accessible when you’ve gone away from Earth’s surface, and that couldn’t be further away from the truth. Our Clinostat: CS-01 is a microgravity simulator that when calibrated, can be easily operated with just a clicks. All of it, on Earth.

3D Space Food Printer

The future of consumption. In the future, no matter how far into space we are, human biology would remain quite the same; we still need to eat. But food isn’t as easy to access in space. So what if we can create food from raw nutrients and 3D print them in space. We can add any flavours, medicine, and nutrients that are all completely personalized to your needs and likings. 
This idea -now made into real prototype- earned us awards and recognition from National Space Exploration (NSE), GISTDA, NSTDA, and Chinese Space Expiration Organization.

Earthly Solution Risk

Grown in space and consumed in space to save on launched mass and many other benefits.


  1. Bake In Space Source

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  2. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, NASA is learning the best way to grow food in space. Accessed 2018-11-27. Source

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  3. Monje O et al. Farming in space: environmental and biophysical concerns. Adv Space Res. 2003;31(1):151-67. Source

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  4. Zero G Kitchen - A Platform for Food Development in Space. Source

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  5. Howard G. Levine. The Influence of Microgravity on Plants, 2010. Source

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