December 8, 2022

Wire Service Canada

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“The astronaut of the future will be a farmer”

“The astronaut of the future will be an agronomist and a farmer” because “the ultimate goal of lunar logistics is that we are going to the moon to survive and build a habitat.” This was stated by Franco Malerba, the first Italian astronaut to fly into space in 1992 as an engineer aboard the Atlantis shuttle that carried the Eureca Laboratory and the Italian Tethered satellite into space. Malerba, a graduate of electronic and physical engineering and a former member of the European Parliament, was today the guest of honor at the Trieste Science + Fiction Festival. In the morning he presented his book “Food in Space”, and in the afternoon he gave a lecture entitled “Back to the Moon and the New Space Economy”.

The astronaut explained some possible scenarios and survival solutions for the new mission to the moon, expected in 2025, such as the possibility of establishing “lunar settlements where we will develop agriculture in low gravity and in a hostile and inhospitable region. Habitats will be placed under the lunar regolith to protect them from radiation, and it will be “life in Caves”, while greenhouses will be exposed to solar radiation to make plants grow.”

According to Mallerba, feeding astronauts on the Moon would also be of great benefit to the future sustainability of life on Earth: “On the Moon there will be many solar panels because they are the only source of energy we can think of in these conditions, there is work that has implications on Earth because sober farming , which consumes little water, also matters to us on our planet as well as the transmission of energy towards solar panels and the use of systems that rely on sunlight rather than fossil fuels.”

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The astronaut explains that the research has already progressed in this sense: “Some crops in microgravity are already being tried, and therefore the reason for growing them on the Moon is a non-trivial challenge that becomes necessary if we are to gain independence from supplies, a continuous transfer of resources from the Earth is inconceivable, Also because vegetables must be eaten fresh to get the contribution of vitamins essential to health, so the future astronaut will devote himself to farming.”