Being called the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH), this technology will provide researchers the opportunity to better understand plant growth within the monitored conditions aboard the ISS. This study could produce invaluable information and could possibly provide a means of growing food during deep-space exploration. Already, some components have arrived at the Florida Kennedy Space Center. There they will be prepared for delivery to the ISS during the Orbital ATK’s seventh resupply mission.
NASA’s first fresh food growth system, Veggie, is currently in place on the ISS and will work together with the APH upon receiving the technology from the supply mission.
In November of last year, a prototype test version of the APH was used to grow Arabidopsis seeds, which are plants similar in nature to cabbage. These Arabidopsis, labeled PH-01, will be the first plant experiments grown in the APH chamber.
To minimize the amount of crew time needed to grow the plants, the APH will be activated by astronauts on the ISS but will then be monitored and controlled by a team back at the Kennedy Space Center. The space station will still need to perform a few duties such as plant thinning and harvesting, but the rest will be controlled back on Earth.