With funding from NASA and the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, the Crop Physiology Laboratory researches the challenges associated with growing food crops in bioregenerative life support systems in space.
USU-Apogee Wheat is the first crop developed specifically to grow in space where the light “sun” can shine 24 hours, where roots never touch soil, and room to grow is at a premium. USU-Apogee (named for the point in an orbit farthest from the Earth) was successfully grown aboard the International Space Station from April to June 2003, thriving in the unusual conditions because its seed heads emerge just 23 days after germination and it is only 40 cm (16 inches) tall, about half the height of terrestrial wheat. This variety was followed by the related USU-Perigee Wheat (named for the point in an orbit closest to the Earth).
Other research and/or testing has been done with Micro-Tina tomatoes, Super Dwarf rice, Hoyt soybeans, Triton peppers and Earligreen peas.