Controlled Environment Agriculture Space Farming Vertical Farming

Vertical Future Collaborates on Space Farming Initiative with Global Experts

Vertical Future Collaborates on Space Farming Initiative with Global Experts. Vertical Farming; Indoor Farming

In a groundbreaking move, UK-based vertical farming R&D firm, Vertical Future, has unveiled its plans to pioneer a Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) facility tailored for future space missions. This ambitious project comes on the heels of a research grant awarded by the UK Space Agency.

Vertical Future will spearhead the initiative, joining forces with a consortium of global plant biology and space technologies experts. Key collaborators include Axiom Space, Saber Astronautics, and the University of Southern Queensland. Additionally, the Plants for Space (P4S) research teams from the University of Adelaide and the University of Cambridge will offer their expertise.

This venture positions Vertical Future as the premier UK-based entity venturing into agri-space.

The project’s initial phase will delve into the intricacies of designing an autonomous agricultural system. This system, potentially powered by AI, aims to bolster space missions, notably the forthcoming Moon-to-Mars Artemis expeditions. A workshop at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center will facilitate the team’s research, focusing on creating a CEA facility adaptable to the unique challenges of deep space and the International Space Station (ISS). Furthermore, the team will assess data transfer protocols between Vertical Future’s London R&D site and The Waite Research Institute in Adelaide.

The subsequent phase will witness the CEA system’s integration on the ISS and the world’s inaugural commercial space station, currently under Axiom Space’s development. This new station is set to succeed the existing ISS upon its retirement.

Beyond space applications, the research promises to revolutionize Earth’s CEA systems or vertical farms. These advanced systems can yield a diverse range of superior fresh produce, ensuring affordability and reliability for consumers. They are remarkably resilient to extreme weather and supply chain disruptions, making them ideal for urban settings. Moreover, they optimize resource utilization, from water and energy to fertilizers, enhancing yields and reducing import dependence.

Dr. Jennifer Bromley, Vertical Future’s Chief Scientific Officer, expressed her enthusiasm, drawing parallels between the project and the narrative of The Martian. She emphasized the significance of providing astronauts with diverse, high-quality diets and highlighted the potential terrestrial applications of their findings.

Echoing her sentiments, Dr. Paul Bate of the UK Space Agency lauded the international collaboration, emphasizing its potential to propel space innovation and bolster the UK’s economy.

Christian Maender from Axiom Space, Dr. Jason Held of Saber Astronautics, Prof. Matthew Gilliham from the University of Adelaide, and Prof. Alex Webb from the University of Cambridge also shared their insights, underscoring the project’s potential to reshape space exploration and Earth’s agricultural landscape.

Image provided by Bruce Moffet

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