Space… the final frontier…
For mankind and, perhaps, for cannabis if a company called Space Tango has its way.
Space Tango is an innovative research and manufacturing biz based out of Lexington, Kentucky and they plan to put pot over 200 miles into orbit for a study sesh on the International Space Station (ISS) to determine how the plant reacts to a zero gravity growing environment.
The header on their website reads:
The microgravity environment is a new frontier for discovery and innovation. By exploring it with industries of all kinds, we can improve life on Earth.
Though the company aims to experiment on actual cannabis in the near future, the fact that the plant still remains a Schedule I drug in the eyes of the U.S. Federal Government prevents them from doing so for now. And so the company has partnered with another Kentucky-based firm, Atalo Holdings, who will provide expertise from an agricultural perspective and will provide certified hemp seeds that will used in the initial experiments.
Even in the ideal growing conditions here on solid ground, the hemp produced from these seeds produces less than .03% THC, but can be rich in the isolated healing CBD compound that the feds are becoming more comfortable with.
So Space Tango, Atalo Holdings, and a third partner named Anavii Market have collaborated on high tech fully automated cube modules that they call CubeLabs that can be stored, transported, and used on the ISS to cultivate hemp (for now) in the alien environment of outer space.
Operators back on Earth will be able to interact with the modules with video and data streams beaming back and forth in real-time.
The wonder behind their project is whether a potentially medicinal plant, like hemp or cannabis, finds benefit or detriment to being grown in a zero gravity medium.
“Understanding how plants react in an environment where the traditional stress of gravity is removed can provide new insights into how adaptations come about and how researchers might take advantage of such changes for the discovery of new characteristics, traits, biomedical applications and efficacy,” Dr. Joe Chappell recently told Forbes.
Chappell has experience running projects on the ISS and is a member of the Space Tango Advisory Board, but when it comes to questions like:
What will it mean for resin gland production? What about terpenes? Will yields be larger or smaller than their earthbound counterparts?
There is only one way to find out, and Space Tango and their partners are likely laying out a lot of cash to do so.
But the tech behind growing plants in space is not really new thanks to NASA who has been growing edible green veggies for ISS guests for years now in their own cultivation module, not unlike the model that Space Tango plans to launch in February 2019.
From Mars OG, to Skywalker, to Romulan, we’ve puffed on some out of this world weed in our time here on Earth and we’re not too sure how having robots growing it in orbit will help, unless we are stuck up there with them and need the smoke!
But, this is no small step for Space Tango and their partners, and it could be one giant leap for cannabis legalization.