SpaceX recently sent a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) but that cargo’s manifesto is dull compared to what’s coming next.
After shipping supplies and some genetically engineered mice, the next Dragon capsule will have something more unusual: a selection of cannabis.
However, it won’t be SpaceX who’s sending cannabis to the orbit but an agricultural technology outfit called Front Range Biosciences.
And it’s also not weed. The company is sending up hemp, a strain of cannabis with almost no psychoactive effects but plenty of other uses – food, fuel or building material.
Front Range Biosciences specializes in creating new varieties of hemp and coffee and, through the next SpaceX cargo ship, will send some hemp up to see how it responds to microgravity.
This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures.
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,” explained Dr. Jonathan Vaught, Co-Founder and CEO of Front Range Biosciences.
The hemp will spend 30 days in microgravity, then will be sent down to Earth.
Here, the researchers will see how cosmic radiation and fluctuating gravity levels affected their DNA.
Their journey starts next year, in March 20020, aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight.