Active In Space

Advanced Plant Habitat (APH)

The Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) was designed by SNC and NASA engineers. It is intended for plant research.

NASA Link.


Box-like equipment structures

Advanced Plant Habitat (APH). Credit: NASA

“The Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) … is a growth chamber on station for plant research. It uses LED lights and a porous clay substrate with controlled release fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots. … It is enclosed and automated with cameras and more than 180 sensors that are in constant interactive contact with a team on the ground at Kennedy, so it doesn’t need much day-to-day care from the crew. Its water recovery and distribution, atmosphere content, moisture levels and temperature are all automated.” It has red, green, and blue, white, far red and infrared to allow for a broad range of imaging. “APH had its first test run on the space station in Spring 2018 using Arabidopsis thaliana. … Dr. Norman Lewis is the principal investigator for the Arabidopsis Gravitational Response Omics (Arabidopsis-GRO) consortium study, which will be the first study using APH.” (NASA, Growing Plants In Space)

wheat growing in enclosed chamber

Advanced Plant Habitat growing dwarf wheat (Credit: NASA)



VEGGIE is utilized to grow small amounts of produce on Space Station. Two chambers are currently on ISS. VEGGIE was built by the Orbitec division of the Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Tray of plants enclosed in accordioned plastic chamber



European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS)

The European Modular Cultivation System (EMCS) is designed for studying root ans sprout growth.

Row of plant sprouting chambers

EMCS (European Modular Cultivation System) module

EMCS cartridge deployed in experimental chamber.


  • Ciris, “European Modular Cultivation System“. “the facility harbored an incubator and two spinning rotors. The rotors carried exchangeable Experiment Containers (EC) housing the actual experiment in experiment-specific hardware.”
  • ESA, “European Modular Cultivation System“.
    • “The EMCS facility contains an incubator with two slowly rotating rotors.”
    • “The rotors provide dedicated life support (including temperature, humidity, O2 and CO2) and water supply systems to the ECs, as well as illumination (white and infrared) and observation capabilities.”
  • Astrobotany.com, “European Modular Cultivation System.”
  • http://www.biology.tohoku.ac.jp/lab-www/nishitani_lab/essay/pdffile/2008617-1538492007BSS(21)62.pdf

Portable Astroculture Chamber (PASC)

The Portable Astroculture Chamber (PASC) was designed for plant research.

Equipment box with reflectors

Plant Astroculture Chamber (Credit: NASA)



Astro Garden

The Astro Garden is plant growth chamber designed to grow a larger volume of food than VEGGIE. It is being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (Orbitec division).

  • Lettuce, Chinese cabbage and mizuna grown and consumed to date
  • Zinnia grown as ornamental plant


rows of plant chambers in space station module

Astro Garden



Russia Lada plant chamber



(May be used in future as needed)


  • ABRS (Advanced Biological Research System)
  • BRIC (Biological Research in Canisters) used for both plants and other organisms.
  • CPBF (Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility)

Advanced Astroculture (ADVASC) – NASA

  • ESA BioLab (sometimes used for plants) https://www.nasa.gov/mission/station/research-explorer/facility/?#id=66
  • CGBA Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, https://www.nasa.gov/mission/station/research-explorer/facility/?#id=329

Sustainspace Orbital Genomics 1U plant chamber / cube lab

1U Plant Growth Chamber


  • https://www.sncorp.com/what-we-do/environmental-systems/
  • Also see: https://astrobotany.com/a-brief-history-of-plant-habitats-in-space/
  • https://technology.nasa.gov/patent/KSC-TOPS-81