Astronauts Set To Eat First Ever Space Vegetables, Get Bizarre Call From Earth

It's been an interesting week for those aboard the ISS.

Between surprise callers and space-grown vegetables, you can say this has been quite the interesting week for the crew aboard the International Space Station. 

On Monday, they sat down and ate the first food ever grown, harvested and eaten in space. Even though it's only lettuce, it's a major step in what astronauts know is a necessary technology if they ever want to be self-sustainable in space for long periods of time.

Although the ISS has been home to a greenhouse named Lada for years, it was only using it to study plant growth in microgravity. It's only now that astronauts are reaping harvest, and the first thing on the menu is red romaine lettuce. 

But the six astronauts who ate the lettuce aren't just helping people in space. As NASA explained on their website, Orbital Technologies (ORBITEC) helped develop Veggie, the system growing lettuce aboard the ISS, and the developments they made while partnering with the Kennedy Space Center are becoming available to the commercial market.

Included in those developments was a lighting system that uses "60 percent less than traditional plant lighting systems."

The first crop was grown a year ago, but it had to be sent back to Earth and tested for contamination, as the open air environment aboard ISS can offer some dangers. On July 8th, Kelly (pictured above), planted the lettuce that was eaten this week. 

Lighting wasn't the only technology they developed, either. The crew has also worked with the non-profit BioServe Space Technologies on a program that texts their caregivers when the plants are ready to be watered. It measures the thickness of the plant, a strong indication of need for water, and has been found to reduce water use by 25 to 45 percent, since it doesn't let the caregivers over-water plants.

But it wasn't all about lighting and lettuce this week. The ISS crew also had an interesting moment when an amateur radio enthusiast contacted the Space Station from Earth.

Not long before NASA astronauts got to eating their station-grown lettuce, Adrien Lane was asking one unidentified crew member what the stars looked like from space.

After weeks of trying and asking permission from NASA and the British broadcast authority, Lane, from England's West Country, had a brief exchange with the astronaut while they flew by at 18,500 mph nearly 200 miles above where he sat in his home. 

Lane used a website to match the astronaut's rest period with a time they were passing over the UK, and then just gave it a shot.

"I asked him 'what do the stars look like up there?'" he told the BBC. "He said, 'Adrien they are like diamonds in the sky because were looking straight at them were not having to look through the atmosphere like you are.'"

They only got to chat for 45 or 50 seconds, but it was well worth it for Lane. 

Here he is explaining what happened to BBC: