Last Monday, a SpaceX cargo capsule containing hemp seeds arrived at the International Space Station after travelling for two days to orbit. The cargo was launched out of Cape Canaveral last Sunday morning. Organized by Space Tango, a Lexington-based company, in partnership with Atalo Holdings, as well as Anavii Market, a CBD retailer, the seeds will be used for scientific research and investigation on the International Space Station.
Studying Hemp in Space
The mission is not to get the astronaut high by smoking cannabis. Instead, it aims to study and understand how the low gravity condition could affect the biology of hemp, which could pave the way to discovering new applications for hemp products on Earth.
Considered a type of cannabis, hemp technically belongs to the family of sativa and is distinguished for its skinny leaves concentrated at the top of the plant. Unlike marijuana with which people get high, hemp doesn’t contain much of the THC, the substance responsible for the psychoactive effects that people feel after smoking a joint. Instead, hemp contains cannabidiol or CBD, which offers a host of health benefits. In fact, hemp is very versatile as it’s used in a wide range of products, from skin care products to clothing and concrete.
The mission was organized by Space Tango, a company based in Kentucky that has been helping researchers in designing and implementing experiments conducted in the International Space Station. They have already helped scientists to conduct more than 100 experiments in space.
After the legalization of hemp in the United States, Space Tango saw an opportunity to conduct an unprecedented research project. In Kentucky, and several other states in the US, hemp is becoming a booming industry and they believe that it’s about time to send hemp to space for further research.
Seeds Will Be Back in a Few Months
No one really knows what will happen when the hemp seeds are taken into space and what the effect will be on the plant. Will this have an impact on the nutritional profile of the plant? Will it affect its fiber strength?
The researchers have to wait for a few months before they will find the answers to their questions. The seeds are scheduled to return back to Earth in a month and once they are back, they will be planted in a lab. This will give researchers the opportunity to study how the time of the seeds in orbit has affected their overall biology. They will compare the resulting hemp plants with the control group that was never taken to space.
According to the researchers, the seeds that were sent to space came from a lineage of hemp plants dating back to the 1800s. Therefore, the scientists will have an extremely great genetic profile to compare the space hemp and study how the plant’s nutritional profile has changed while it was in the International Space Station.