Tupperware, a household name which has been popular for decades in keeping foods fresh is now extending its resources. Yes, the manufacturer of iconic household plasticware will help in providing fresh foods to space. Since 2015, the astronauts of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have grown crops in space using the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) on the International Space Station. The main drawback that currently the scientists are facing with the growing plants in space is keeping them properly drenched. And so, the Tupperware Brands has lent its design expertise to help in creating a new approach in watering plants in space.
The experts at NASA explain that with the Veggie system, a seed is inserted into a round soft surface which is known as plant pillow inside a circular container. Astronauts then inject the plant pillow with a syringe filled with water. But through this system, not all plants could get equal amount of water and oxygen due to which only some plants fared better.
Nicole Dufour, a Veggie Project Manager at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida said, “The primary goal of this newly developed plant growing system, the Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System or PONDS, is to achieve uniform plant growth.”
Tupperware and Techshot developed PONDS system requires less crew maintenance and uses absorbent mats instead of plant pillows to provide water to seeds and roots through a reservoir system. This approach passively disperses water evenly to each plant cylinder contained within the PONDS’ reservoirs, facilitating consistent seed germination and seedling development into mature plants. “It's been great working closely with the talented teams of engineers, designers and scientists at NASA and Tupperware on the project,” reported Dave Reed, Techshot’s PONDS project manager and the company’s director of launch operations. “Tupperware brings a wealth of innovative design and knowledge of plastics to this project,” he added.
NASA further informed that in its upcoming Space X CRS-14 commercial resupply mission will include seven PONDS modules including an adapter plate to keep them installed in the veggie system. On the other hand, six more PONDS units are scheduled to launch on an Orbital ATK commercial resupply mission later this year.