A team of research and technology programs at the Kennedy Space Center has implanted these seeds in a device called a science thread, which is attached to APH, one of three plant growth cells in a comprehensive laboratory where astronauts grow crops.
About the size of a kitchen stove, APH is the largest plant growing facility on the International Space Station. With 180 sensors and controls for monitoring, it allows the experiment to be controlled, among other things, from the Canadian Space Center, so that astronauts can spend less time treating tumors.
“This is the first time that NASA astronauts have grown a crop of hot peppers on the station from seed to adulthood,” NASA said in a press release.
Principal investigator Matt Roman said this experiment is one of the most complex plant experiments on the International Space Station to date due to its germination and long time.
“We’ve tested flowering before to increase the chances of a successful harvest because astronauts will have to pollinate peppers to grow fruit.”
The experience comes after astronauts began breeding prostitutes in 2015, which NASA described as “a harbinger of longer fruit-bearing flowers.”
The researchers spent two years evaluating more than two dozen peppers, and eventually settled on NuMex “Española Improved” peppers, a hybrid shack of peppers from New Mexico.
Romain said employees may prefer spicy or spicy foods because they may temporarily lose their sense of taste or smell after living in microgravity.
The peppers should be ready to harvest in about three and a half months. After eating some, the team plans to send the rest back to Earth for surgery.