- On December 9, 2020
One of Modern Mold & Tool’s customers received a U.S. patent for its injection molded device designed to grow vegetables in zero gravity on the International Space Station. Modern Mold & Tool designed injection molds to meet NASA’s testing need for the product and molds plastic parts required for the assembly.
The device was designed in partnership with NASA. It needed to be “passive” in that it did not need energy to work. Using natural forces and solving the fluid dynamics in zero gravity problem was required to make the device work. Designing the device so it could wick water to the roots was critical.
With space crews being in orbit longer and longer, even eclipsing a year, having access to fresh vegetables becomes very important. Astronauts usually eat freeze-dried meals that are prepared at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. With the new device, astronauts can now grow three types of lettuce as well as zinnia flowers, and hopefully cherry tomatoes soon.
If everything goes well with the latest rounds of testing, the device will be classified as approved equipment by NASA and have some real use onboard the ISS, and hopefully in deep space.