FOA 167: Farming in space with Dr Ray Wheeler of NASA

By Tim Hammerich
29th August 2019

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As NASA’s Plant Physiologist, Dr. Ray Wheeler runs space farming experiments with the goal to allow humanity to grow safe and nutritious crops off Earth.

Dr Wheeler is the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Program at Kennedy Space Center. He began his career at NASA in 1988 and the bulk of his research revolves around the use of hydroponic techniques for space farming experiments.

Ray joins me today to discuss some of NASA’s recent developments regarding planting crops in space. He shares some of the systems and tech that have been made commercial in the ag industry and explains why it’s difficult to experiment with plants in space. Ray also describes some of the benefits of being able to grow plants on other planets.

“We’ve been trying to manipulate the environment to accommodate plants. Now we have the tools to manipulate plants to fit into the environment.” – Dr. Ray Wheeler

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • The research he’s conducted that has made it in today’s agriculture industry.
  • How NASA helped in terrestrial applications of space farming.
  • His recent projects that could be applied commercially in the future.
  • Solving the ever-increasing CO2 emissions with space farming tech.
  • Recent progress on the experimental planting chambers in space.
  • Deciding which crops show promise for space production.
  • The water content of Mars and the prospect of someday growing food there.
  • The critical benefits of being able to grow plants in space.
  • Recovering as much water as possible in space.
  • The effects of low gravity environments on plant growth.
  • His advice for people interested in space farming technology.


Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Dr. Ray Wheeler:

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