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New ‘Plants 4 Space’ research centre announced

New ‘Plants 4 Space’ research centre announced

The Australian government will provide $35 million in funding for a new research centre focusing on growing plants in space.

Announced on Friday (4 November), the Australian Research Council (ARC) revealed plans to establish the ARC Centre for Excellence in Plants for Space (P4S).

The centre is to be based in Adelaide and will be led and administered by the University of Adelaide.

Joining the project are several other academic institutions, including Flinders University, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia and La Trobe University as well as a host of international universities.


The program will also be supported by 38 industry partners, both domestic and international including the Australian Space Agency, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), and NASA.

With the additional support provided by the partner organisations, the total value of the project comes to approximately $90 million.

Ultimately the aim of the P4S research centre is to create high-efficiency and zero-waste plants and organic products that will enable long-term habitation within space and improve plant sustainability here on Earth.

Matthew Gilliham from the University of Adelaide and director of the new P4S Centre for Excellence spoke about the goals of the program.


“The mission of P4S is to re-imagine plant design and bioresource production, through the lens of space, to enable off-Earth habitation and provide transformative solutions to improve on-Earth sustainability,” Gilliham said.

“P4S research will create the flexible, plant-based solutions needed to support human physical and psychological well-being during deep space travel and settlement.

“Work undertaken by experts from the Centre will also deliver a step change in plant efficiency, productivity, and processing technologies here on Earth.”

One of the key aspects of the P4S project is that it will represent a significant Australian contribution to NASA’s Artemis Accords, which is an agreement between like-minded countries to abide by a set of shared principles for sustainable space exploration.

The research completed within the P4S program will be vital to establishing a long-term human presence on the moon and later on Mars.

“Long-term off-Earth habitation is on the horizon. However, key challenges remain, which will be addressed head-on by P4S. Mission success depends on having nutritious food and medicines without the need for resupply missions from Earth,” said Professor Harvey Millar from the University of Western Australian and the P4S Plants program lead.

Enrico Palermo, head of the Australian Space Agency, also hailed the program as a positive step forward.

“There are many challenges associated with ensuring humans can live sustainably on the moon. P4S is just one way in which Australia can contribute to making this happen as part of our commitment to the Artemis Accords,” Palermo said.

Liam McAneny

Liam McAneny

Liam McAneny is a journalist who has written and edited for his University International Relations journal. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (International Relations) and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Wollongong in 2021. He joined Momentum Media in 2022 and currently writes for SpaceConnect and Australian Aviation. Liam has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations as well as astronomy.

Send Liam an email at: [email protected]

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