Eu:CROPIS – greenhouses in space – food technology for the future

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.