UAE astronaut undertakes HRF veg experiment on the ISS

The study aims to transform our understanding of space agriculture and nutrition.

Abu Dhabi: The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) today announced that astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi took part in the HRF veg experiment on the International Space Station (ISS).

Conducted in collaboration with Kennedy Space Centre (KSC), Johnson Space Centre (JSC) and NASA, the study aims to transform our understanding of space agriculture and nutrition.

The HRF veg experiment focuses on understanding the overall behavioural health benefits of having plants and fresh food in space for plants grown from the VEG-05 science investigation. The investigation involved growing dwarf tomatoes under controlled light and fertiliser conditions to comprehend their nutrition, taste, and safety. It also investigates the psychological impact on astronauts growing, tending, and consuming fresh produce during long-duration space missions.

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Adnan AlRais, Mission Manager, UAE Astronaut Programme, said, “The HRF Veg experiment is an important study towards enabling sustainability in space exploration. This collaborative effort with NASA, Kennedy Space Centre and the Johnson Space Centre fortifies our understanding of food cultivation in space, nourishing the physical health and psychological well-being of astronauts on prolonged missions. We are privileged to contribute to this pivotal research through astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, and we are sure that the result from this study holds the potential to shape the future of long-term habitation in space.”

Crew members on the ISS act as gardeners, tending and watering the plants, pollinating them, and harvesting the fruit. Half of the harvested tomatoes are set to be consumed by the ISS crew, while the remaining are to be returned to Earth for comprehensive analyses. The crew will also participate in taste tests and complete questionnaires to evaluate the sensory quality of the produce such as flavour, colour, aroma, sweetness, and more.

The HRF Veg experiment is a testament to human innovation and adaptability, pushing the boundaries of space exploration, and providing fresh perspectives on sustainable living in space. The outcome will lay the groundwork for advanced plant growth systems for future space missions, heralding a new era of space nutrition and well-being.

The UAE Astronaut Programme is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Programme and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE and promote the country’s integration on the global stage

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