Six-month space greenhouse experiments — A step to creation of future biological life support systems
SVET Space Greenhouse (SG) — the first automated facility for growing of higher plants in microgravity was designed in the eighty years to be used for the future BLSS. The first successful experiment with vegetables was carried out in 1990 on the MIR Space Station (SS). The experiments in SVET SG were resumed in 1995, when an American Gas Exchange Measurement System (GEMS) was added. A three-month wheat experiment was carried out as part of MIR-SHUTTLE'95 program. SVET-2 SG Bulgarian equipment of a new generation with optimised characteristics was developed (financed by NASA). The new SVET-GEMS equipment was launched on board the MIR SS and a successful six-month experiments for growing up of two crops of wheat were conducted in 1996-1997 as part of MIR-NASA-3 program. The first of these "Greenhouse" experiments (123 days) with the goal to grow wheat through a complete life cycle is described. Nearly 300 heads developed but no seeds were produced. A second crop of wheat was planted and after 42 days the plants were frozen for biochemical investigations. The main environmental parameters during the six-month experiments in SVET (substrate moisture and lighting period) are given. The results and the contribution to BLSS are discussed.