Boldly going where no cannabis has gone before, Front Range Biosciences and SpaceCells USA Inc. announced plans to send cannabis to the International Space Station, aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020.
No no, we’re not about to recreate the Pink Floyd laser light show, in zero gravity, 350 kms about the Earth, and traveling at 27,724 kms per hour. Instead, the hemp cultures will be incubated on the ISS for 30 days, with BioServe Space Technologies monitoring the growth remotely at the University of Colorado.
The experimentation is being conducted to see what effects, if any, microgravity and space radiation have on their natural gene expression and metabolic pathways.
“There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations,” Front Range Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Jonathan Vaught noted in a statement. “This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to Earth, and if there are new commercial applications.”
The results of the research could help growers and scientists identify new varieties or chemical expressions in the plants, and help further the understanding of how plants manage the stress of space travel, setting the stage for a new area of research for the companies, and the industry.
“The is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures.”
With rising temperatures across the planet due to climate change, many environments on Earth that once supported thriving crops, are now no longer able to do so. Learning how plants respond to stimuli and new conditions, such as that of zero gravity and space, with help with our understanding of future plant and crop viability.
The supply mission scheduled for March 2020 is the next one currently being planned for, with SpaceX’s most recent supply run taking place this past Sunday, hauling nearly three tons of cargo to the ISS.