The International Space Station crew will soon get to eat some Chinese cabbage, thanks to the efforts of astronaut Peggy Whitson who has harvested the space station's first crop of Tokyo Bekana Chinese cabbage after tending to it for nearly a month.
This is the fifth crop grown aboard the station, and the first Chinese cabbage. While the space station crew will get to eat some of the Chinese cabbage, the rest is being saved for scientific study back at Kennedy Space Center, NASA said in a statement on Friday.
"I love gardening on Earth, and it is just as fun in space …" Whitson tweeted in early February.
"I just need more room to plant more!" Whitson said.
The crop was chosen after evaluating several leafy vegetables on a number of criteria, such as how well they grow and their nutritional value.
The top four candidates were sent to Johnson Space Center's Space Food Systems team, where they brought in volunteer tasters to sample the choices. The Tokyo Bekana turned out to be the most highly rated in all the taste categories.
Later this spring, a second Veggie system will be sent up to be seated next to the current one, NASA said.
It will provide side-by-side comparisons for future plant experiments and will hopefully make astronauts like Whitson happy to have a bigger space garden.