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Ed Yeates ReportingFuture space travelers going to the lunar surface may not find Cache Valley cheese there, but they will find Cache Valley seeds "a growin."
Buried beneath the lunar surface, an underground greenhouse grows dwarf tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, spinach, and more. It's almost a certainty Utah State University will be NASA's choice for growing crops on the Moon and Mars.
Dr. Gail Bingham, U.S.U. Space Dynamics Lab: "We're pretty excited about the goal - the opportunity to go the moon - to build a permanent manned base there and then look forward to using that technology to go to Mars."
Plants and workers would be protected with exterior shields or underground, by safely piping in sunlight via fiber optics.
Dr. Bruce Bugbee, U.S.U. Space Crop Research: "Ultimately, we would like to be growing all of our food up there and once we can get to all of our food, we can go anywhere in the universe."
In a farm about the size of a football field USU and NASA could grow enough crops to continually sustain a space crew of 20 to 30 people.
So these early gourmet chefs going to the moon won't be taking huge palates of food - but what is comparable to a Burpee's seed packet. Instead though these are USU moon seeds which will sprout in growth chambers.
Menus will be prepared from crop to table using all kinds of veggies, wheat, rice and soybeans - food dishes literally out of this world.
Dr. Bugbee: "We would like it to be a bit of a ceremony. So we go to the greenhouse. We pick the fruits we need for that evening's dinner off of live plants. No grocery stores."
At $10,000 per pound to transport goods into space, it's simply a "must" to grow crops on site. After almost 13 years in partnership with NASA, USU is prepared to do just that - even going to the Moon and Mars themselves.