Duckweed heads into space aboard the New Shepard

Super foods are headed to space in an effort to work toward a self-sustaining food supply for astronauts.

A Blue Origin rocket named “New Shepard,” is successfully launched into orbit today. The mission aims to see if duckweed can grow in zero gravity. Otherwise known as water lentils, duckweed is considered a microgreen and is known for its high protein content and rich supply of nutrients.

The suborbital flight will also test the space lab’s new “lily pod.” That is a growth chamber, which will function as a sort of miniature greenhouse to sustain plant life. As a result, researchers are now looking into controlling pests in space.

They sent nematodes up to the space station to see how they function in microgravity.

“That way you don’t have to rely on chemical insecticides floating around with you in space. You can have these safe natural methods,” USDA’s Dr. David Shapiro-Ilan said.

The researchers discovered that the round worms can move through soil, find insect pests, kill them, and also reproduce.

Watch the launch