Tom Swift had nothing on the kids of San Jose’s Valley Christian High School. While the fictional young inventor was working out the kinks on his robots and repeletron, 22 members of the school’s exclusive Applied Math Science and Engineering Institute have developed a very real experiment that will be performed about the International Space Station. If it succeeds, it could hold the secret to how astronauts grow their own food on long space flights.

Carrying several years’ supply of food into space can be costly. It takes up precious cargo space and must be refrigerated, consuming enormous amounts of electricity. Ideally, the solution would be to have astronauts grow their own food, but we don’t yet know all the details about how plants grow under extreme extraterrestrial condictions.

The experiment that the students and their two advisers developed will grow seeds from three different plants in tiny boxes measured 4 inches by 4 inches by 8 inches. The three plants chosen—basil, marigold, and Wisconsin fast plant—should eventually grow into the first extraterrestrial salad.

The experiment will be shot skyward today in a Japanese rocket. The students will be following closely. After all, they are sending up what could one day be their lunch. Tom Swift never got to do that.
Read More at ABC 7.