UAE: Astronaut launches HRF wedge experiment to enhance space nutrition


The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) announced today that astronaut Sultan Alneyadi participated in the HRF Wedge experiment aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The study, conducted in collaboration with Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Johnson Space Center (JSC) and NASA, aims to transform our understanding of space agriculture and nutrition.

The HRF Veg experiment focuses on understanding the overall behavioural health benefits of keeping plants and fresh food in space for plants grown from the VEG-05 science investigation. The investigation involved growing dwarf tomatoes under controlled light and fertilizer conditions to understand their nutrition, taste and safety. It also examines the psychological impact on astronauts growing, caring for, and eating fresh produce during long-duration space missions.

Adnan Alrais, Mission Manager of the UAE Astronaut Programme, said, “The HRF wedge experiment is an important study towards enabling sustainability in space exploration. This collaborative effort with NASA, Kennedy Space Center and Johnson Space Center strengthens our understanding of how food cultivation in space nurtures the physical health and psychological well-being of astronauts on long missions. We are privileged to contribute to this important research through astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and we are confident that the results of this study have the potential to shape the future of long-term residency in space.

Crew members on the ISS act as gardeners, tending and watering plants, pollinating them and harvesting fruit. Half of the harvested tomatoes will be eaten by the ISS crew, while the rest will be returned to Earth for extensive analysis. The team will also participate in taste testing and complete questionnaires to evaluate the sensory quality of the product such as taste, colour, aroma, sweetness and more.

The HRF Wedge experiment is a testament to human innovation and adaptability, pushing the boundaries of space exploration and providing new perspectives on sustainable living in space. The results will lay the groundwork for advanced plant growth systems for future space missions, ushering in a new era of space nutrition and wellness.

The UAE Astronaut Program is one of the projects managed by MBRSC under the UAE’s National Space Program and funded by the ICT Fund of the Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA), which aims to support research and development in the ICT sector in the UAE Is. and promoting the unity of the country on the global stage.

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