Those Veggies Grown on the ISS Get Humans Closer to Mars

The menu in space has grown a lot since John Glenn’s very first meal in 1962: On the first five hour-long orbital mission, he sucked applesauce from a tube and drank xylose sugar tablets dissolved in water. Now, astronauts can choose from more than 200 types of dehydrated foods, including a full Thanksgiving meal. But fresh food in space is still a rare treat, sent up with the resupply shipments once every couple of months.

Not anymore. Yesterday on the International Space Station, Expedition 44 crew members dined on their first meal of space-grown “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce. Growing the purple leaves, which the crew seasoned with vinegar and oil, was a concrete step toward making NASA’s long-promised manned journey to Mars—and maybe even more permanent space colonies—a reality.