After a special research project in 2006 saw over 2,000 seeds blasted into space in a Shijan 8satellite the best of the germinating seeds were then selected for further breeding on Earth. And the results have been pretty astounding.
The harvests have seen extra large pumpkins, two foot long cucumbers and even fourteen-pound aubergines. There have even been reports of chili plants being the size of small trees. So if you are ever at a takeaway restaurant in outer space, be sure to order the extra small portion of vegetables.
This is a really important discovery for China, due to their country needing to support over 1 billion people with only limited arable land for farming. Space plants will offer harvest that gives a bigger return of edible food. The concept was written about in a 1989 space fiction novel called Tides of Light. The science fiction writer Gregory Benford wrote about cultivating plants in space by using special growth pods called life zones. These life zones could then be attached to space ships.
Vegetables that are ten sizes the normal size, could potentially be the answer to feed the whole world. Scientists are very hopeful that this may be the solution to the world’s food crisis. It is thought that the near-zero gravity conditions of space are what caused the seeds to produce super-sized vegetables.
Lo Zhigang one of the scientists on the project advised that conventional agricultural development has taken as far as we can in terms of producing as much food as possible. However, our populations are growing endlessly, which is why we now have to look into the possibility of superspace seeds.
22 provinces in China are taking part of the initiative which is being run by the China Academy of Sciences, and China says that some of its giant fruit has already been sold to Japan, Thailand, and Singapore. As you could guess, this means it has also caused great interest from European agricultural firms. The real mystery though is that it is not really fully understood how taking seeds into space causes this reaction.