Redwire to launch first-ever commercial greenhouse in space

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By Louis Allen - 

American space infrastructure company Redwire (NYSE: RDW) plans to launch the first commercial space greenhouse as early as Spring next year, in an effort to boost crop production research outside Earth and support exploration missions.

Redwire Greenhouse will be the first-ever commercially owned greenhouse set up on the International Space Station (ISS).

Redwire Florida launch site operations director and greenhouse project manager Dave Reed said the project will offer valuable research into crop production on Earth and space.

“Growing full crops in space will be critical to future space exploration missions as plants provide food, oxygen and water reclamation,” he said.

“Increasing the throughput of crop production research in space, through commercially developed capabilities, will be important to deliver critical insights for NASA’s Artemis missions and beyond.”

The Artemis program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) aims to send astronauts to the moon and eventually enable the human exploration of Mars.

Redwire Greenhouse was enabled through an award from the Centre for the Advancement of Science in Space.

Redwire technology

Redwire will use its flight-qualified company plant growth technology, which includes Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System (PONDS) devices, already being used by the company on the ISS.

Redwire Greenhouse hopes to provide a simple, scalable commercial solution for customers trying to develop crop science from bench-top labs to true production in space.

It will also offer accessibility to institutional and commercial customers vying to fulfil plant science and industrial research goals.

Inaugural customer

Commercial agricultural technology company Dewey Scientific is set to be Redwire’s first customer on the inaugural flight, which is scheduled to launch to space no earlier than the northern hemisphere’s spring of 2023.

Washington State-based Dewey will grow industrial hemp in the greenhouse for its gene study.

Both parties have collaborated, offering insight into Dewey’s 60-day experiment and its potential to demonstrate the capabilities of the facility, while advancing biomedical and biofuels research.

Redwire’s executive vice president of in-space manufacturing and operations John Vellinger said in partnering with Dewey, “space is open for business”.

“Building on our long track record of partnering with commercial organisations like Tupperware, Eli Lilly and now Dewey, Redwire Greenhouse is another ground-breaking step forward in Redwire’s demonstrated leadership in establishing a viable commercial economy in low-Earth orbit,” he said.

Redwire describes itself a leading space infrastructure company guiding the next generation space economy, with valuable intellectual property for solar power generation and in-space 3D printing and manufacturing.

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