Plans sprout to grow hemp in outer space

Plans sprout to grow hemp in outer space



American aerospace manufacturer and space infrastructure company Redwire is making plans to launch an outer space greenhouse. And the first plant grown inside it will likely be hemp.


Redwire announced plans in mid August to develop a “spaceflight-qualified plant growth platform” where plants can be grown from seed to harvest. The greenhouse will be installed on the International Space Station in spring 2023 at the earliest. The Redwire Greenhouse will support NASA’s long-term space exploration plans, which are going to require a way to grow food in space


It will also give agriculture technology companies a chance to take the leap from growing plants in laboratory facilities to true production in space. The first customer is expected to be cannabis agritech company Dewey Scientific.


“We’re not sure if you’ve heard, but we’re taking cannabis plants to space!” the company tweeted August 19.


During the inaugural flight, Dewey Scientific will grow industrial hemp in the greenhouse for a gene expression study. The 60-day experiment has the potential to demonstrate the capabilities of the facility while advancing biomedical and biofuels research.



During the inaugural flight, Dewey Scientific will grow industrial hemp in the greenhouse for a gene expression study. The 60-day experiment has the potential to demonstrate the capabilities of the facility while advancing biomedical and biofuels research.


Information collected from the greenhouse will bring insights for growing crops on Earth and in space, according to Dave Reed, a launch site operations director and greenhouse project manager for Redwire.


“Redwire Greenhouse will expand opportunities for scientific discovery to improve crop production on Earth and enable critical research for crop production in space to benefit future long-duration human spaceflight,” Reed said in a press release. “Growing full crops in space will be critical to future space exploration missions as plants provide food, oxygen and water reclamation.”

“Growing full crops in space will be critical to future space exploration missions as plants provide food, oxygen and water reclamation.”

— Dave Reed, Launch Site Operations Director and Greenhouse Project Manager, Redwire

“Increasing the throughput of crop production research in space through commercially developed capabilities, “ Reed continued, “will be important to deliver critical insights for NASA’s Artemis missions and beyond.”


The Artemis mission is NASA’s plan to establish a long-term presence on the moon and use what’s learned there to eventually send the first astronauts to Mars. As for the moon mission, NASA is hopes to have astronauts on the lunar south pole by 2025.


Redwire has managed plant investigations in the NASA-owned Advanced Plant Habitat since 2018. The greenhouse will use the company’s existing plant growth technology, including a Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System developed in partnership with Tupperware that’s already in operation on the ISS.

The greenhouse design, which is being developed through an award from the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, will be scalable so that larger versions can be flown in the future. The 2023 in-space demonstration will validate the greenhouse in terms of concept, lighting, ventilation and leaf litter containment.

This won’t be the first time industrial hemp has been taken into space though, according to Hemp Gazette. In 2019, hemp seeds from Kentucky were taken to the ISS to assess the stability of the seeds after prolonged exposure to microgravity conditions. And the first plants were grown in space in 1982.