These days, the news of growing rice in space by Chinese astronauts has been published. The ability to grow food in space is an essential skill that countries are developing.

November Teter

The Chinese have been able to grow rice in the Tiangong Space Station. Since food is an essential element for astronauts’ survival, this ability could be useful for astronauts’ long journeys.

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Growing rice in space by Chinese astronauts

Zheng Huiqiong is a molecular plant science researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He gave an interview to the state newspaper China Daily about rice cultivation in space and said:

If we want to land on Mars and explore the Red Planet, bringing food from Earth is not enough for the long journey and mission of astronauts in space. We need to find a sustainable food source for our long-term space exploration.

Astronauts have grown rice seeds at the Wentian Space Laboratory, and in early summer, they launched a research module into orbit to dock with China’s space station.

This research module had eight different experimental shipments, one of which was rice seedlings. According to Zheng, these seeds grow very well. He went on to say: “Since the start of the rice experiment on July 29, the long branch rice seed seedlings have grown to about 30 cm, and the dwarf rice type named Xiao Wei seed seedlings have grown to about 5 cm.”

Growing rice in space by Chinese astronauts

Astronauts are supposed to monitor these plants and, if successful, collect newly produced seeds and transfer them to Earth for further studies. Zheng further said:

We want to investigate how near-zero gravity can affect plant flowering time at the molecular level and whether such an environment can be used to control the relevant process or not.

The goal of the Chinese astronaut experiment at Tiangong is to reproduce the complete life cycle of a plant, starting with a seed and ending with a mature plant producing new seeds.

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