Next month, in March 2020, SpaceX will be sending cargo to the International Space Station, but this time, according to reports by Newsweek, the cargo will also include hemp and coffee! According to the reports, Front Range Biosciences is partnering with SpaceCells USA and BioServe Space Technologies to determine whether space travel and the environment in space in any way genetically mutate the plants.
You might remember seeing Elon Musk smoking a joint on Joe Rogan’s podcast, so he has made his stance on the plant very clear – and amidst growing global legalisation, it is unsurprising that SpaceX is pushing for more research on a “universal” level. Hemp is a federally legal strain of cannabis that’s used in a variety of ways, including CBD (obviously), in clothing, shoes, rope, and more. It has an extremely low level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which means it can’t produce the psychoactive effects common in marijuana and has a positive effect on the environment, violence reduction and collective health.
With already tonnes of agricultural and environmental benefits, sending hemp and coffee cell cultures to space will likely have an important and profound effect on our broader understanding of the plants. Most of all, the scientists want to know whether space in some way materially affects the plants and how they can be used or genetically modified in the future to serve humankind.
To achieve some real insight, the plants need to be in space for 30 days. The scientists are sending 480 plant cultures into orbit and then evaluating the plants when they return to the planet.
For its part, SpaceX is acting as little more than the courier, bringing the plants to and from space. The researchers were quick to note, however, that if their efforts are successful, many more plant-based trials will be conducted aboard SpaceX vehicles to develop hardier plants.