Bean plants are to be cultivated in an incubator on the international space station (ISS); in time, these could turn out to be an important source of protein for humans in space.
The Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Space (CIRiS) at NTNU Social Research has long been an active player on the space station. However, participating now as a hardware supplier, it has chosen Simpro as a project partner.
Researchers at CIRiS and NTNU are involved, among other endeavors, in research and development in collaboration with the astronauts, who circle the earth at over 27,000 kilometers per hour.
«In this project, bean plants will be grown in a weightless state. In addition, a similar plant will be grown in a centrifuge on board the space station as a basis for comparison. Other items have been grown on the space station before, primarily to see if it was feasible. In this project, however, the plants will be frozen and «locked in» chemically at a certain stage for further research. Important basic research is being conducted,» explains Lars Grytbakk Kluken, senior R & D engineer at CIRiS.
The experiments will be carried out in the space station’s Biolab.
The project has been dubbed WAPS (Water Across the Plant System); roughly speaking, it involves research into how plants grow in space. All plant life on earth has evolved consistent with gravity. This creates problems when attempting to grow similar plants in a weightless state; but by the same token, it holds great potential.
Kluken, who once worked at Kongsberg Space, has previously been involved in hardware development. At CIRiS, on the other hand, they are accustomed to supplying research, software and control systems, but not contracts for hardware development. So it is good to have team partners with experience.
«The fact that Simpro demonstrates such a commitment to sending supplies into space is a positive thing in itself. Not only that, they are very good communicators. For us this means that our contact person is both accessible and quick to get in touch with us to clear up any issues that might arise during the production phase,» Kluken says.
«Then again, it is always reassuring to see that other major players in the same field are choosing Simpro. Knowing that the players on our customer list have high standards for quality and delivery gives us a sense of security from day one,» Kluken explains.
Simpro is focused on space travel
Not only does Simpro have extensive experience supplying electronic products to the planet’s most demanding environments; it also has experience with deliveries to satellites and other space installations. Kjetil Blokkum, business developer at Simpro, has a particular focus on space.
«We have a clear commitment to space travel. And since we believe this is a field of business that is destined to grow, it is all the more welcome that environmental institutions such as CIRiS are in our immediate vicinity. All residents of Trøndelag have every reason to be proud that innovation and research at such a high level is taking place in their county,» Blokkum says.