SpaceX will carry hemp cultures into outer space, so scientists can better understand the effects of microgravity on the plant.
Sending a car into air space wasn’t enough for tech billionaire Elon Musk. Now Musk will boldly take something into space that hasn’t gone before—marijuana. According to Digital Trends, a SpaceX cargo flight will transport cultures of cannabis and coffee to the International Space Station.
Musk’s SpaceX company isn’t carry weed into the silky darkness for a private smoke session aboard the ISS. The transportation is for an agri-tech company called Front Range Biosciences, which intends to study the impact of gravity might place on cannabis plants. In addition, the plants in question will be hemp, a variety of marijuana with minimal psychoactive properties.
Microgravity in space can produce some strange effects on plants. Previous experiments have shown that plants don’t actually require gravity for their roots to grow downward. However, plants will sprout along a “skewed” axis and express unique genetic mutations, as most plants do when facing brand-new environments.
“This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” Dr. Jonathan Vaught, Front Range Biosciences co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”
Not only do plants provide a nutritious benefit to scientists on a long space voyage (microgravity farm-to-table cuisine, anyone? ), it also presents a psychological aid as well. Think of how millennials who live in cramped apartments now want houseplants. It’s a similar mentality.
Hemp goes one step further. Not only could it be a food source, but also be used as biofuel or creating fabric for ropes or T-shirts. For transportation, 480 hemp cultures will be sent in temperature-controlled containers until they reach the ISS. There they will remain for 30 days as scientists in the University of Colorado observe their progress remotely.
What about Elon Musk’s marijuana habit? Well, Musk had to send a mass apology to SpaceX employees for his actions on the Joe Rogan podcast, where he lighted up a joint with the host. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated “that was not appropriate behaviour” and added that Musk won’t smoke weed again in public.