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Hemp in space? The International Space Station gets an upgrade


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News reports this week show trailblazing space-travel company SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, will soon transport hemp and coffee to the International Space Station.


The purpose of the mission is a regular resupply run, but apparently scientists also want to conduct experiments on cannabis to better understand plant behaviors in space, where they expect lack of gravity and atmosphere may cause mutations.


According to Newsweek, the University of Colorado at Boulder will be working with a number of agriculture and space companies to conduct the experiment with hemp, which has long been used for any number of industrial uses and recently exploded in popularity with the rise of CBD. [1]


The UC-Boulder team will work with Front Range Biosciences, Space Cells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies to determine how hemp and coffee plants perform when growing in the vacuum of space onboard the ISS. [1]


According to Vice, the mission to the ISS sets out in March of 2020. [4]


The Daily Mail UK said the flight, CRS-20, will be SpaceX’s 20th cargo journey to the ISS to resupply the data and science research operations there. [3]


“This is the first time anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” Front Range Biosciences CEO Jonathan Vaught said in a statement. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.” [4]


Mashable reports that the feedback from the space mission plant growth will provide valuable data on how plants might adapt once climates on earth change, or even how humans might be able to cultivate non-Earth environments to forage and grow crop yields. [2]


According to Newsweek, 480 different hemp plant cells will be grown onboard the ISS over the course of 30 days as part of the experiment. The different plant cultures will hopefully offer a wide range of experimental results and data to work from going forward. [1]


“These are big ideas we're pursuing and there's a massive opportunity to bring to market new plants that can better adapt to drought and cold conditions,” SpaceCells CEO Peter McCullagh said, according to Newsweek. “We expect to prove through these and other missions that we can adapt the food supply to climate change.” [1]


The tests may also show the potential for CBD products to grow and influence aspects of human health. [1]


Sources

[1] https://www.newsweek.com/spacex-cannabis-iss-scientists-mutate-1476888

[2] https://mashable.com/article/hemp-coffee-spacex-iss/

[3] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-7781609/SpaceX-include-cannabis-coffee-plants-20th-cargo-resupply-trip-ISS.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

[4] https://www.vice.com/en_in/article/j5yyyd/a-company-is-sending-cannabis-and-coffee-to-space-to-see-if-they-mutate

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