(RTTNews) - Tupperware Brands Corp. (TUP) said Wednesday that it has been awarded a U.S. patent for PONDS (Passive Orbital Nutrient Delivery System), a unique device designed to grow vegetables in low earth orbit with minimal maintenance.
PONDS is a NASA-tested product used to grow vegetables in space. It is a low gravity, non-powered, agricultural device designed to grow vegetables on the International Space Station. The device was developed by Tupperware in partnership with Techshot, an in-space research and manufacturing company.
The patented design focuses on watering plants in the absence of gravity. Tupperware said it took inspiration from the natural way plants absorb water through capillary action.
"We are proud to have received a patent for the unique and novel design of PONDS. With this patent in hand and with the work of our teams on this project, we are now exploring ways to capitalize on the science behind this innovation and use that knowledge to enable consumers around the world to reduce their impact of single-use plastic and food waste through the use of our environmentally responsible products," said Miguel Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer of Tupperware Brands.
In 2015, a team at NASA's Kennedy Space Center led by Dr. Howard Levine began developing PONDS to expand the capabilities of NASA's Vegetable Production System (Veggie) on the International Space Station.
PONDS was being developed so that astronauts could grow larger, more complex plants in Veggie, while reducing the time spent watering and maintaining the plants.
Tupperware said it joined the project in 2017 to improve upon a prototype PONDS design by applying engineering and physical science knowledge to create a passive way to deliver water and nutrients to plant in a low gravity environment.
PONDS first launched into space on CRS-14, SpaceX's 14th contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA in April 2018 under the Commercial Resupply Services contract.
PONDS hardware returned to the space station on the Northrop Grumman CRS-11 launch on April 17, 2019 and the SpaceX CRS-20 launch on March 6, 2020. Tupperware said that the company and NASA are planning for a fourth trip in 2021.
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