Congrats to LaShelle Spencer, Jacob Torres, Oscar Monje, and Jeff Richards on Amentum’s LASSO program at the Kennedy Space Center in Fla., who provided extensive support – both ground and flight testing – to the experimental plant habitat technology demonstration that allowed chile peppers to grow aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Plant Habitat-04 is one of the most complex plant experiments on the orbiting laboratory to date because peppers take much longer to grow than previous experiments like lettuce or radishes.
“Our support started three years ago,” said Debbie Wells, LASSO Deputy Program Manager. “We began with cultivar screening, where more than a dozen peppers were selected and grown in space cabin relative conditions, and we evaluated by plant viability, production, and flavor.”
Of the peppers grown, the Española Improved pepper was selected and tested in Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) analog science carriers to determine optimum fertilizer, lighting spectrum, and environmental conditions. Testing continued in the APH Engineering Demonstration Unit. Plant compatibility with the hardware was assessed, and crew procedures and moisture requirements were determined.
“The team then completed the ensuing paperwork necessary to document the preparation and ensure the quality of the fertilizer, seeds, and media used for flight,” added Debbie. “Once the technology was initiated aboard the ISS, the team continued its support through weekly science meetings and hardware support to our NASA customer and other teammates.”
On the Laboratory Support Services and Operations (LASSO) program, Amentum provides services in program management, laboratory maintenance and support, operational laboratory services, and professional and technical support for scientific research, engineering, test, and evaluation in laboratory environments in support of multiple customers and projects at the Kennedy Space Center.