The launch of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS satellite on 3 December 2018 marked the beginning of DLR's mission with the same name, in which a satellite equipped with two greenhouses – each containing a symbiotic system consisting of bacteria in a biofilter, tomato seeds, single-celled algae and synthetic urine – orbits the Earth. The aim of the mission is to determine whether biological waste can be recycled in space and used to grow fresh food. Astronauts on long-duration missions would benefit from fresh vegetables, but so too would people in extreme terrestrial habitats. The two greenhouses will operate for a total of 62 weeks – one under Martian gravitational conditions, and the other under lunar gravitational conditions, which will be simulated by adjusting the satellite’s rotation rate.
The compact German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS satellite is now rotating in space at a rate of 17.5 revolutions per minute, generating a gravitational force in its interior similar to that found on the Moon. After its launch on 3 December 2018, DLR engineers successfully tested and commanded the spacecraft.
Space missions are a bit like a marathon with checkpoints – only once the first model of a satellite has been successfully tested will construction commence on the actual flight model. The Eu:CROPIS satellite developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), which will operate two greenhouses under Martian and lunar conditions, has now reached this milestone – construction of the flight model can now begin.
A symbiotic community of bacteria, tomatoes and single-celled algae, synthetic urine and a satellite that simulates the gravity of the Moon or Mars by rotating around its axis – these elements make up the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft und- Raumfahrt; DLR) Eu:CROPIS (Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in Space) mission.