Hemp In Space: Researchers Send Hemp Plants To International Space Station

Hemp in space sounds like a science fiction dream. It will soon to be an exciting new reality thanks to a partnership of terrestrial firms hoping to learn about the effects of microgravity on the crop.

Space Tango , a start-up business from the heart of Kentucky seeks to harvest hemp in space. Co-founder and chairman, Kris Kimel, wants to lean about how  the biology and quality of the crop will develop without the influence of gravity. The goal is to see if the medicinal value of cannabinoids prospers on this new frontier and to offer unique CBD products to the public.

Anavii Market is partnering with Space Tango on their journey into this new frontier. Anavii Market is an online CBD marketplace  that seeks to improve quality reliability in the industry. Their goal is to provide a trusted source of CBD to the public.

A photo of the International Space Station in orbit over earth, Space Tango and Anavii Market will soon begin experimenting with the immense potential of growing hemp in space.

Space Tango and Anavii Market will soon begin experimenting with the immense potential of growing hemp in space. (Photo: NASA)

We caught up with Kimel to learn about Space Tango’s hemp project.

He told us, “We’re primarily interested in looking at how biomedica … systems operate and change when removed from the gravity well of earth.”


Prior to Space Tango, Kimel was the founder and president of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), “which is where this notion of looking into space and microgravity kind of germinated.” As his interest grew, he left the company and moved over to Space Tango full time.

After nearly a decade of research on this new frontier, Kimel tells us there’s still so little they know and so much to learn when it comes to how plants develop in a gravity stress-free environment. Since hemp has had such little research within the last century and only recently has had its doors opened to scientists, Space Tango remains optimistic in breaking through new discoveries.

Kimel and his team are aware that principle biological systems (i.e. cells, organisms) become scrambled grown without gravity. In turn, this “opens up new pathways, new understandings, of those systems that you’d never see on earth.” Prior to their experiments with hemp, they’ve developed medical implants which can only be manufactured in space.


Permanently installed on the International Space Station are two research and development laboratories for the Space Tango team. Within each of those labs are 21 component parts of operations known as CubeLabs . The purpose of these modules is to reduce the amount of hands-on interaction required to grow organisms in space. They’re about the size of a “Kleenex tissue box and fully equipped with microtechnology.”

CubeLabs function to:

  • Operate independently.
  • Supply a responsive payload.
  • Process data and images to earth in real-time.
  • Reduce application development life-cycle.
  • Decrease astronaut interplay.
Space Tango's module on the International Space Station features multiple

Space Tango’s module on the International Space Station features multiple “CubeLabs,” modular research labs each the size of a box of tissues. The firm will soon be growing hemp in space in one of these labs. (Photo: NASA)

The purpose of these CubeLabs is to find medical solutions which can be applied back here on earth. This is also Space Tango’s primary interest in cultivating hemp. “Our science team has looked at recent developments of CBD and we think an enhance in cannabis and CBD holds great potential for treatment of serious conditions such as epilepsy or migraine headaches.”

Furthermore, due to cannabis’s entanglement in legal issues, new research is constantly being developed. Kris believes him and his team have the ability to discover aspects of CBD and marijuana which aren’t currently there. He tells us, “What we do know in combination with microgravity holds very great potential.”


If these experiments go as planned, Space Tango hopes to offer the public both medical and recreational CBD. The first experiments with hemp in space are scheduled to begin in either January or February of 2019. Due to regulations and policies with both the state and NASA, there are some legal actions Space Tango still needs to take before allowing hemp to enter this new frontier. However, Kimel informs us that Space Tango is committed to making sure they go about the experiments the right way.

So, how do these experiments work?

“Obviously, things are more difficult and complicated in space,” Kimel tells us. “Once the technology is designed, we install it into our labs and, from there, it takes about four to six weeks and then they’re brought back to the lab for analysis.”

Through these analyses, Space Tango believes they can find treatment for certain diseases which you couldn’t find here on earth. Kimel claims, “you get a better resolution with certain kinds of drugs in space.”

“Our ultimate goal is to have a transformational benefit of life on earth,” he concluded.

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