The Colorado-based biotechnology company, Front Range Biosciences, is planning to send both hemp and coffee tissue cell cultures to the International Space Station (ISS).
The endeavour is a part of a research project run by SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies, a research institute at the University of Colorado. Scientists are attempting to study the effects of zero gravity on the plants’ genomics.
The shipment will include more than 480 plant cell cultures (derived from hemp and coffee plants), which will remain in space for 30 days. Upon returning to Earth, the gene expression of the cells will be analyzed to give researchers valuable information about how the plants mutate in space.
The experiment also has a more practical goal, one with a more dire facet. The long-term objective of the project is to engineer plants that could thrive in regions devastated by climate change.
To accomplish this ambitious goal, Front Range Biosciences is partnering with SpaceX -the biggest privately-owned entity in the space industry. Elon Musk, the visionary founder of SpaceX, has recently revealed himself as a cannabis enthusiast in his controversial talk to Joe Rogan.
Interestingly, this will not be the first time SpaceX shoots hemp into space. Back in June, it teamed up with the space research and manufacturing company, Space Tango to bring the first hemp speeds to the ISS in an attempt to study the plant growth in microgravity environments.
The flight is scheduled for 20 March 2020.