«Mars-500» project
Simulation of a manned flight to Mars

Experiment «Salad Machine»
Biotechnical tests of “Phytocycle LED” - space conveyor-type greenhouse prototype

Today it is widely accepted that inclusion of a vegetable greenhouse into the life support systems of the manned spacecrafts and stations destined for Martian and other long missions is one of the most important steps to improve onboard environment. The advantages are:

  • enhancing the dietary crew needs with easily digestible vitamins and minerals and also food fibres;
  • air improvement;
  • crewmembers psycho-physiological support;
  • alleviating the crew free time problem.

The space conveyor-type greenhouse prototypes “Phytocycle”, “Phytocycle LED” and “Phytoconveyor” are designed and constructed at the Institute for Biomedical Problems in cooperation with The Research and Design Institute of Chemical Engineering, “Konstruktorskoe Buro Khimavtomatiky”, Research Institute of Pulse Engineering and other Russian companies.

At the present time the laboratory of Advanced life support systems in cooperation with Russian Institute of Space Device Engineering are developing the space conveyor-type greenhouse “Vitacycle-T” for Russian segment of the International Space Station.

The new technique of plant cultivation is applied at the space greenhouse. Crops are grown on cylindrical illuminated surface in weightlessness so plant stems rise along the perpendiculars to the surface and diverge during growth. (Berkovich et al., 1997, 1998). These crops are called “self-extending”. The theoretical explanation and experimental proof of the technique advantages described in works (Berkovich, 2000; Berkovich, et al., 2005 (in rus); Berkovich et al., 2005).

The goal of the experiment “SALAD MACHINE” is elaboration of the space greenhouse plant cultivation technology.

The space conveyor-type greenhouse prototype “Phytocycle LED” with red-blue light-emitting diodes lighting unit has been planned to use for Chinese cabbage (Brassica chinensis L.) cultivation.

The main tasks are research of:

  • productivity dynamics and plant biomass quality;
  • grown biomass eating on crewmembers’ digestion;
  • stores and/or cargo traffics for the greenhouse, crew labor expenditures, reliability characteristic
  • greenhouse surface microorganisms dynamics.

The data obtained will be used for advanced life-support systems design.


Yu.A.Berkovich, N.M.Krivobok, A.V.Baranov, S.O.Smolyanina, A.N.Erochin, N.V.Zyablova, A.S.Krivobok

© Development and desing: Oleg Voloshin