The Microgravity Seed Starter (MGSS) induces a promotive environment for the germination of seeds in a microgravity environment, such as the ISS or a future space-borne craft, and can be printed with any food-safe material.
On Earth, seeds germinate in relation to gravity; however, in space, these seeds have no reference to align to. To combat this, NASA launched a project called VEGGIE. Seeds are placed in a wick and aligned so that the roots will grow downward. This wick assembly is then placed in a slit into a ‘pillow:’ a chamber that contains nutrients to foster the plant’s growth.
The MGSS eliminates the need for specially designed pillows made on Earth. Astronauts on deep-space missions can print a node, add compost and water to the inner compartments, and place the lid on top. Last, multiple nodes can be snapped together to form a larger array. Overall, the MGSS will provide a feasible approach to sustain a long-term food source for future astronauts.