Front Range Bioscience to launch hemp, coffee samples into space

LAFAYETTE — Front Range Biosciences Inc., an agricultural biotech company focused on high-value crops such as cannabis, is working with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies research institute at the University of Colorado to launch hemp and coffee culture samples into space.

Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural biotech company specializing in cannabis, recently restored a historic Lafayette greenhouse for industrial hemp growth. (Photo courtesy FRB)

The samples will be sent to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled to launch in March 2020.

The purpose of the mission is to study how coffee and hemp genetic structures react to zero-gravity environments and space radiation. The ultimate goal is to develop processes for plant cultivation in space. 

“This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” FRBS CEO Jonathan Vaught said in a statement. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”  

The culture samples, which will be onboard the ISS for about a month, will be monitored in real time by a BioServe team in Boulder. 

“We envision this to be the first of many experiments together,” BioServe chief scientist Louis Stodieck said. “In the future, we plan for the crew to harvest and preserve the plants at different points in their grow-cycle so we can analyze which metabolic pathways are turned on and turned off. This is a fascinating area of study that has considerable potential.”

If the initial study in March proves successful, FRBS, SpaceCells and BioServe plan to collaborate on additional space missions that will expand the experiment’s scope to include ways of improving crop production and viability on Earth. 

LAFAYETTE — Front Range Biosciences Inc., an agricultural biotech company focused on high-value crops such as cannabis, is working with SpaceCells USA Inc. and BioServe Space Technologies research institute at the University of Colorado to launch hemp and coffee culture samples into space.

Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural biotech company specializing in cannabis, recently restored a historic Lafayette greenhouse for industrial hemp growth. (Photo courtesy FRB)

The samples will be sent to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled to launch in March 2020.

The purpose of the mission is to study how coffee and hemp genetic structures react to zero-gravity environments and space radiation. The ultimate goal is to develop processes for plant cultivation in space. 

“This is one of the first times anyone is researching the effects of microgravity and spaceflight on hemp and coffee cell cultures,” FRBS CEO Jonathan Vaught said in a statement. “There is science to support the theory that plants in space experience mutations. This is an opportunity to see whether those mutations hold up once brought back to earth and if there are new commercial applications.”  

The culture samples, which will be onboard the ISS for about a month, will be monitored in real time by a BioServe team in Boulder. 

“We envision this to be the first of many experiments together,” BioServe chief scientist Louis Stodieck said. “In the future, we plan for…