Plants in Space: Resources

Tara | February 24, 2023
Plants in Space: Resources NASA Planet

As humans explore further into space, we’ll need to bring plants along for the journey. There are already plants in space at the International Space Station; fresh flowers and gardens to remind astronauts of home. The further humans venture into space, the more important plants will become because fresh produce will be essential to keeping astronauts healthy.

Currently on the space station, astronauts receive regular shipments of freeze-dried and prepackaged meals and resupply missions keep them freshly stocked. But when humans venture further into space, traveling for months or years without access to resupply shipments, the prepackaged meals will break down. Fresh fruit and vegetables could be the answer to enabling humans to travel further into space than ever before.

The challenge is how to grow plants in an environment without sunlight or gravity. Which is where hydroponic cultivation methods come into play.

Space Discovery Centre Display

Discover the Future of Hydroponics at the Australian Space Discovery Centre!

Whether you’re an experienced grower or a curious novice, the hydroponic systems on display will captivate your imagination and inspire you to explore new possibilities. Here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect:

  1. Spirulina Tank: Learn how to cultivate this nutrient-rich, eco-friendly algae with ease, and get a taste of the future of food!
  2. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) System: Discover how this innovative method allows plants to thrive with a continuous supply of water and nutrients, maximizing your growing space.
  3. Rotary System: Witness the power of circular motion in action, as this space-efficient setup demonstrates how plants can be grown with minimal maintenance.
  4. Deep Water Culture (DWC) System: Immerse yourself in the wonders of oxygen-rich water solutions that enable plants to grow faster and stronger than ever before.
  5. Recirculating System: Explore the benefits of this water-saving technique that circulates nutrient-rich solutions to plants, reducing waste and promoting healthy growth

See below for an overview of the systems we currently have on display.

Nutrient Film Technique

The Nutrient Film Technique is a recirculating system where plants grow in a shallow gully of water containing nutrients. It is a simple and effective way to grow small and fast growing plants such as lettuce and strawberries.


A system for aquatic plants that grow in water. This aquarium contains filters, nutrients and light; everything a plant requires to grow and thrive. This tank contains spirulina, an algae species known for its health benefits.

Rotary System

The rotary system is a rotating cylinder where plants are arranged around a light at the center. Rotary systems use light, water and space in the most efficient possible way, making them an environmentally friendly option for growing indoors.

Recirculating System 

In a recirculating system the water is continuously circulated from the bottom of the reservoir to the top. The same water from the reservoir is used repeatedly, and only replaced occasionally as it is used up by the plant.

Deep Water Culture

In deep water culture plants are grown in water instead of a medium like soil. In this system, the plant roots are suspended in nutrient rich, oxygenated water. The plants access everything they need from the water rather than a medium.

Join us at the Australian Space Discovery Centre to experience these cutting-edge hydroponic systems firsthand, and bring your gardening game to the next level.

Additional Classroom Resources

NASA – Growing Plants in Space

Australian Academy of Science – Rocket Salad: Growing Plants in Space

See below our selection of our hydroponic grow kits that can be used in the classroom. We are also able to custom make kits for every budget.

Whether you’re looking for ways to grow more food in less space or interested in reducing your environmental footprint, the hydroponic systems showcased at the Australian Space Discovery Centre will open up new avenues for growth and innovation. Gain insights and practical knowledge from industry experts, and connect with fellow growers who share your passion for sustainable agriculture. Contact us today to create a custom kit for your learning environment.

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The international space station
International space station
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