In March 2020, the Colorado company Front Range Biosciences plans to send technical hemp and coffee varieties to the ISS to study how the lack of gravity will affect the genetic characteristics of plants.
Cannabis will mutate in zero gravity
Researchers are going to use industrial cannabis strains for the experiment because they are legal in the US at the federal level. Front Range Biosciences, hemp, and coffee breeding company, has partnered with Space Cells technology startup and the University of Colorado at Boulder to send 480 cannabis cell cultures to space in an incubator. The cargo will be delivered to the ISS on the SpaceX ship.
Front Range Biosciences CEO Jonathan Here said: “We will launch the first research project on the effects of microgravity and space movement on cannabis and coffee cells. There is a theory that plants will mutate in space. We can find out whether the changes will remain at the genetic level after the return of the samples to Earth, and whether they can be used for commercial purposes. ”
Cell cultures will be at the station for a month. Front Range experts then plan to study their DNA to evaluate the effects of radiation and microgravity. The information obtained will become the basis for the cultivation of cannabis varieties with new genes. In the future, scientists want to grow hemp on the ISS to find out what effect weightlessness has on plant metabolism. To accomplish this task, the astronauts will cut cannabis at different stages of growth and store samples until they are sent to Earth.
Hemp in midair and space
To date, four experiments have been carried out related to the launch of cannabis into space or the stratosphere. In 2013, the Seed Hub company, together with the High Times, plunged a marijuana roll, a small hemp bush, and 95 seeds onto a balloon. The parcel reached a height of 32 km and successfully returned to Earth.
In 2017, the Herban Planet hemp store and Sent to Space sent 450 grams of cannabis to a height of 40 km in a balloon. A jamb with marijuana, launched by Viceland, flew to 32.4 km. In 2019, Space Tango bioenergy company sent cannabis seeds to the ISS, returned them to the planet and sowed. The experimental results have not yet been published.