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Russian cosmonauts to grow greenery ‘on industrial scale’ in Nauka module on ISS

A space greenhouse, resembling a snail in profile, will be delivered to the orbital outpost to conduct the experiment

MOSCOW, August 9. /TASS/. The Vitacycle-T experiment that involves growing plants on an industrial scale will be conducted in Russia’s Nauka (Science) research module aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Head of the Biomedical Laboratory at the Institute of Biomedical Problems within the Russian Academy of Sciences Yuri Smirnov told TASS on Monday.

"The Vitacycle-T experiment envisages creating a greenhouse to grow plants on an industrial scale," the researcher said.

A space greenhouse, resembling a snail in profile, will be delivered to the orbital outpost to conduct the experiment, he specified.

"A cosmonaut will plant a strip with seeds in the greenhouse at certain intervals. He will then spin a drum and lay the next strip after a certain time. The cosmonauts will be able to gather a harvest at specific periods. During the first experiment, the Napa cabbage will be grown, for example," Smirnov explained.

Some cultivated plants will be delivered to Earth for study, he added.

"Naturally, no one will prohibit the cosmonauts from using the harvest gathered during the space flight in their nutrition," the expert stressed.

In the future, Russian cosmonauts will be able to plant grain, leguminous crops and dwarf tomatoes, he said.

Russia’s Nauka research lab

Russia’s latest Nauka multi-purpose research lab was launched from the Baikonur spaceport on July 21. The module docked with the orbital outpost on July 29.

The Nauka multi-functional laboratory module is for implementing a Russian program of applied research and experiments. With the launch of the Nauka research module into operation, the Russian segment of the International Space Station will receive additional space for equipping workplaces, storing cargoes and accommodating water and oxygen regeneration equipment.

The Nauka module will provide a second toilet for Russian cosmonauts (the first is located in the Zvezda module) and a room for a third crewmember. It will also use the European Robotic Arm (ERA) that will help perform some operations without spacewalks.