PROPOSAL NUMBER 00-1 09.03-9616 (Chron: 000385 )
Seed Transport, Storage and Handling System (SEEDSYS)

With Space Station, opportunities for long duration plant experimentation in space, including seed-to-seed multi-generational studies become increasingly available. This will require not just transport of seed to orbit, but means to stow and handle seed. The innovation of the proposed seed transport, storage and handling system (SEEDSYS) is the development and integration of a seed management system with the following capabilities: 1) controlled environment storage of bulk seed or pre-seeded root modules to minimize decreases in viability from environmental factors; 2) tools for pre-germination treatments (seed priming); 3) tools for cleaning and planting seed harvested on-orbit; 4) a container system for allowing reliable transport of seed in diverse carriers; and 5) capabilities for storage of seeds in a defined gas atmosphere (nitrogen, CO2). Innovative design integrates this suite of tools for effective function in microgravity and to accommodate a wide range of potential experiments. SEEDSYS would increase science capability for experimenters, reduce crew workloads, and reduce launch and landing mass of plant growth systems. Project tasks will include developing conceptual designs of SEEDSYS components, defining requirements for the efficient integration of the components, and performing a preliminary system level safety analysis.

Commercial applications within NASA could include making technology available to transport seeds ad planted root modules to and from orbit, and to provide seed storage and seed handling on-orbit for plant research and growing facilities used aboard the space shuttle and space station. SEEDSYS would allow a large reduction in launch and return mass while keeping plant growth systems operating on orbit more continuously and more efficiently. ORBITEC has used this process with a previous development, the Biomass Production System (BPS) plant growth chamber. Phase III contracts have been funded for the actual flight of BPS on Space Station Middeck, ISS Express Rack, and on ISS Utilization Flight 1.

Terrestrial commercial application of this technology would include inexpensive, controlled environment seed storage units that could be readily utilized in laboratories and individual research programs. There are 1238 Biological and Life Science and 1342 Agricultural Sciences departments in US Colleges and Universities (U.S. New College Report, 2000) where small seed handling systems might find use. There are also a number of commercial agriculture research companies that could make use of these technologies. There may also be use among hobbyists involved in gardening, seed collecting, and seed exchange clubs.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR (Name, Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Dr. Robert C. Morrow
Orbital Technologies Corporation
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI   53717 - 1961

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)
Orbital Technologies Corporation
Space Center, 1212 Fourier Drive
Madison , WI   53717 - 1961