EDEN ISS and German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Growing Food in Space

"Over a period of one year in the Antarctic, our greenhouse has clearly demonstrated that enough food can be generated in a small space to supplement the diet of a future six-person crew with about one third of freshly grown produce."
Daniel Schubert, EDEN ISS project leader, DLR Institute of Space Systems

Problem:
Inspired by the goal to design, build and test a semi-closed plant cultivation unit to sustain efficient crop production in extreme conditions, Heliospectra was invited to join the EDEN consortium as a lighting specialist in 2014. The EDEN ISS collaboration project brought together 14 research institutes and commercial companies.

Solution:
Heliospectra’s in-house product engineering and Plant Lab experts created a customized version of our flexible, adjustable spectrum ELIXIA light solution for the test applications and final installations. Prior to demonstration, several cultivation experiments were carried out by Wageningen University, Netherlands to optimize growth spectrum, light intensity and select the most suitable varieties of vegetables. Additional food safety and sensory tests were conducted by Limeric Institute of Technology, Ireland.  

Results:

Installed and operating in Antarctica since 2018, the self- sufficient greenhouse concept produced a wide variety of vegetables and leafy greens (more than 268 kilograms harvested in the first 9.5 months alone!) with Heliospectra LED lighting solutions. This demonstrates the opportunity to produce fresh, locally grown food in demanding climate regions on Earth, as well as for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

The overall goal of the EDEN ISS initiative is to adapt, integrate and demonstrate crop cultivation techniques and operational procedures for reliable, sustainable food production on board the international space station and in future space projects. The project is financed with funds from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation under project number 636501.

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