Far Out, Man: Astronauts Are Studying Hemp Seeds in Space
A new research project on the International Space Station will investigate how hemp seeds grow and thrive in the microgravity environment of outer space.
Published on April 30, 2019

On Tuesday morning, a space shuttle carrying hemp seeds launched from Cape Canaveral toward the International Space Station — so scientists can see how weed grows in outer space.

According to a press release, the orbiting hemp project, titled “Microgravity Exposure on Medicinal Plant Seeds,” will “evaluate hemp seeds and their potential opportunities for the discovery of biomedical applications related to CBD when exposed to microgravity — an area that is being highly studied due to the recent FDA approval of hemp and cannabis-derived drugs for conditions like epilepsy.”

The hemp study is part of a larger series of studies called the SpaceX CRS-17 Payload.

The project was devised by Space Tango, a private Kentucky-based company that studies everyday processes in microgravity conditions. The company conducts its research at two permanent laboratories housed at the International Space Station.

Other projects onboard Space Tango’s SpaceX CRS-17 Payload include investigating immune system activity in human lungs, organs-on-chips activity in space, and microfluid system behaviors in microgravity.

Although the project’s findings could help astronauts grow weed in space, that’s not Space Tango’s aim. Instead, the company hopes to identify “baseline stress factors” as well as genetic changes that occur in the plant to better grow weed crops back on Earth.

“Our focus is not necessarily the six people in orbit,” said the Space Tango website, “but the 7 billion people on Earth.”

Space Tango’s hemp won’t be the first cannabis to orbit the Earth. In 2017, Arizona pot farmers sent weed into outer space on a weather balloon. When it came back, they dubbed it “Space Weed Bro.” That’s not a joke.

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Randy Robinson
Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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