DLR Eu:CROPIS project

A satellite goes on a journey – with tomatoes on board

18 October 2018

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  • Beim Verpacken von Eu:CROPIS
    Packing up Eu:CROPIS

    The satellite integrated at the DLR Institute of Space Systems is specially packed for shipping.

  • Hartmut Müller und Sebastian Kottmeier vor dem Satelliten Eu:CROPIS
    Hartmut Müller and Sebastian Kottmeier in front of the Eu:CROPIS satellite

    Project Managers Hartmut Müller and Sebastian Kottmeier in the clean room at the DLR Institute of Space Systems, where the Eu:CROPIS satellite (seen in the background) was integrated.

  • Eu:CROPIS beim Verschließen der Transportkiste
    Closing the Eu:CROPIS transport crate

    The Eu:CROPIS satellite was flown to its California launch site packaged in a crate.

  • Roll%2dout des Satelliten Eu:CROPIS
    Roll-out of the Eu:CROPIS satellite

    DLR staff push the transport crate containing the Eu:CROPIS satellite ready for loading at the airport.

  • Test in der Vakuumkammer im August 2018
    Vacuum chamber test in August 2018

    In August 2018, DLR researchers tested the satellite's functionality in space inside a vacuum chamber at the DLR Institute of Space Systems in Bremen.

On Wednesday 17 October 2018, the German research satellite Eu:CROPIS left its manufacturing site, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) in Bremen. On board were 24 tomato seeds. The satellite – one metre in length and weighing 230 kilograms – made its way to the US Vandenberg Air Force Base in California via Frankfurt. The satellite is scheduled for launch into space on board a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket in November.

"We want to investigate how to create a breathable atmosphere and food for astronauts in space using their own waste," says Hartmut Müller, Project Manager for the satellite built at the DLR Institute of Space Systems. The aim is for astronauts to be self-sufficient during future space missions lasting several years. Until the launch, the tomato seeds will be in a semi-dormant state. Once in space, an automated system will provide them with water, fertiliser and light – "everything they need to grow," according to Müller. Rotation of the satellite will generate artificial gravity – first like the Moon and then that of Mars.

Even a satellite has to clear customs

Before departing, the satellite had to undergo a series of final tests. Right before loading, it was inspected by customs.

The DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne is responsible for the scientific leadership of the mission, which also expects insights into terrestrial applications, such as greenhouses in high-rise buildings ('vertical farms').

Last modified:
24/10/2018 15:20:32



Hartmut Müller
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR Institute of Space Systems

Tel.: +49 421 24420-1257
Jens Wucherpfennig
German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Tel.: +49 551 709-2108

Fax: +49 551 709-12108