Growing vegetables aboard the International Space Station (ISS) takes up a lot of the crew's schedule. In an effort to make space gardening less time consuming, NASA is teaming up with Tupperware Brands and technology company Techshot to be able to improve the current experimental hydroponics system.
Since dirt and space travel do not mix well together, the seeds are embedded in a rooting "pillow" that takes the place of the soil to retain water and give the roots somewhere to grow. The only problem is that the pillows do not hold onto water very well, so the hydroponic system keeps drying out unless it is tended regularly.
Seeing as it is very expensive to keep an astronaut on the ISS, the time spent watering the lettuce is just as expensive, to the team led by Howard Levine at the Kennedy Space Center is working on some upgrades for the system.
Tupperware has over 75 years of experience working with food-grade plastic as well as injection moulding and other plastic manufacturing processes, Tupperware is producing a new disposable pillow that is made of plastic that uses capillary forces and unusual geometries to replace gravity and hold water in like a zero gravity sponge while allowing root formation.
The devices are scheduled to fly on two SpaceX Dragon cargo mission to the ISS in the latter half of 2018, with six of the pillows to be installed in the Veggie system at one time.