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Pages: 1
Author Topic: Crop growing facility


Drake
Europa Dreamer
Posts: 20
Crop growing facility
on: December 12, 2013, 01:31

Just a word of caution, I’m not a biologist. I have no expertise in this field, yet I believe that a replenishing food supply is the only practical option for a mission of this length, and soy beans have been suggested as the optimal food source. I wanted to do some calculations to estimate just how many plants will be needed, and how large a facility is necessary. If anyone would like more information on my calculations or my sources, I can expand on this later.

The astronauts on board the ISS have a 2000 calorie daily diet (despite living in zero gravity), and raw soy beans have a caloric content of 830 calories per cup. Using this initial data and other figures such as the average bean production of a plant, average square feet one plant needs on Earth, and the time it takes to produce the beans, I have calculated that the food production facility would require somewhere in the range of 45,000 square feet of growing surface area to feed a crew of 5. That’s just over one acre. To put that in terms of a space going vehicles, the Solar Array Wings that flank the ISS have a combined surface area of 18,400 square feet.

This will add a considerable amount of size to the vehicle, as well as cost to the mission. Yet I can’t possibly imagine sending constant resupply missions as a more practical solution, especially during the outgoing journey, when the vehicle will already be going as fast as we can get it.

Sources of Error;

This is based on how soy beans grow on Earth. I have found no research on soy beans growing in zero gravity.

This is based only on natural soy beans. Genetically modified soy beans are probably more fruitful, but I was unable to obtain research data on them.

This is based on naturally growing soy bean plants. By the time this this mission happens (+/- 50 years), it is entirely possible that an artificial growing system will have been invented, one that is more space efficient. I’m also assuming that some form of 3D printing will be used to provide other fresh foods such as meat for a more balanced diet.



Timothy709
Europa Dreamer
Posts: 6
Re: Crop growing facility
on: December 12, 2013, 02:55

Does this assume the crops will be planted in two dimensions?



Drake
Europa Dreamer
Posts: 20
Re: Crop growing facility
on: December 12, 2013, 03:35

Yes, my units were square feet. The point was that it takes a surprisingly large amount of crops to feed even a small crew.



cronoik
Administrator
Posts: 45
Re: Crop growing facility
on: December 12, 2013, 12:12

Hey Drake,

sounds really interesting. Please claim a research topic.

Click me!



Bryan
Europa Astronaut
Posts: 98
Re: Crop growing facility
on: March 12, 2014, 20:29

Here is an article on some research regarding growing food in zero g.

http://modernfarmer.com/2013/09/starship-salad-bar/



Bryan
Europa Astronaut
Posts: 98
Re: Crop growing facility
on: March 12, 2014, 20:33

From that article, it looks like Dr. Cary Mitchell at Purdue is working on the some of the problems regarding vertical farming in space. Here is his research page.

https://ag.purdue.edu/hla/Pages/Profile.aspx?strAlias=cmitchel&intDirDeptID=16



jkroes
Europa Dreamer
Posts: 2
Re: Crop growing facility
on: April 16, 2014, 02:25

Using wolfram alpha to estimate the height of an average soybean plant, and using your number for acerage, the average volume we would need to grow this if stacked vertically would be between 1.5-2 olympic swimming pools or a cube about 55ft on edge. This makes the growing facility seem less huge, it still is large though.



Bryan
Europa Astronaut
Posts: 98
Re: Crop growing facility
on: August 20, 2014, 00:33

My guess is that for traveling, even for multiple years, pre-packaged food will be much more compact.

However, once on the surface, that volume is much more manageable.

Or we can use my idea of capturing an asteroid for travel. We would have the space for growing and lots of radiation protection. (Propulsion becoming the main problem at that point.)

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