Vazon

Kalanchoe: The Versatile Houseplant // Missouri Environment and Garden News  Article // Integrated Pest Management, University of Missouri
An example of a kalanchoe plant. (Source)

In 1979, cosmonauts received a very special gift: a Vazon growth chamber with a kalanchoe plant inside. They were so pleased with this plant that they named it “life tree”. Although it was used for a variety of plant species, the Vazon was initially designed to grow bulbous plants in space, like onions and tulips. The Vazon first flew to the Salyut 6 in 1973, and continued to support plant research on Salyut 7 and the Mir space station. Although the Vazon was a successor to the Oasis series growth chambers, it was simpler in many ways. It had no lighting system or environmental controls, and instead relied on light and air from the space station cabin.

Chamber Components:

  • Plant growth chamber was open to the cabin air
  • Lighting system was nonexistent, ambient light was provided by the cabin
  • Roots were contained in a cloth sack tilled with ion exchange resin
  • Cosmonauts manually operated the irrigation system by flipping an on/off switch, and a drain valve removed excess water

There were several iterations of the Vazon, but the slight differences between iterations have been difficult to find in the literature. If you’re aware of any Vazon literature that is not listed below, please send it to our contact page.

References:

  • Review and analysis of plant growth chambers and greenhouse modules for space (link)
  • Review and analysis of over 40 years of space plant growth systems (link)
  • Spaceflight hardware for conducting plant growth experiments in space: The early years 1960–2000 (link)
  • Leaving Earth: Space Stations, Rival Superpowers, and the Quest for Interplanetary Travel (link)
  • Greenhouse design integration benefits for extended spaceflight (link)
  • Birth of space plant growing (link)