Vertical Future selected by the UK Space Agency to install its systems to grow crops in Low Earth Orbit

Contribution to the rapidly evolving Agri-Space sector, which aims to support off-Earth habitation, is another critical milestone and use case for Vertical Future’s technologies, plant science, and a novel approach to controlled-environment-agriculture (“CEA”).

UNITED KINGDOM: Vertical Future (“VF”), a UK-based vertical farming technology and manufacturing specialist, has been awarded a new grant of £1.5 million to deliver the second phase of the “Autonomous Agriculture for Space Exploration” project. The initiative will adapt  VF controlled-environment-agriculture (“CEA”) systems to prototype Low Earth Orbit (“LEO”) growing systems for use in the first commercial space station being constructed by Axiom Space, due in orbit in 2026. VF designs, manufactures, and deploys intelligent autonomous CEA systems globally with several use cases beyond leafy greens such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, integration with greenhouses, and research and development for application in outer space. With adaptability and integrity at the forefront, VF’s systems deliver robust, reliable, and resilient CEA capabilities.

VF’s proposal was exclusively selected by the UK Space Agency due to its technological expertise and leadership in plant science. In addition, the planned work aligns with the UK’s ambitions for human presence in Low Earth Orbit and beyond. The initiative is part of the UK Space Agency’s £20 million International Bilateral Fund program. This unique project will drive innovation and sustainability whilst providing a valuable contribution to commercial space exploration and the Artemis Accords. The technologies proven in this work will look beyond the initial LEO plans and expand into the 2030s as a key enabler for Mars missions. Following this, the goal is to implement the solutions onto Lunar Gateway, the Lunar surface, and, eventually, the Martian surface.

VF systems are designed to be adaptable to all environments on Earth. Through the approaches to farm communication and data management in this project, VF will offer the first fully remotely monitored farm system enabling productivity tracking of systems on Earth, in orbit, and on lunar and Martian bases.

Technology development for deployment in space has proven benefits to life on Earth. Examples of the over 30,000 commercial applications of space technology that have entered the consumer market since the 1950s include scratch-resistant lenses, the computer mouse, ear thermometers, smoke detectors, cordless tools, and memory foam. Technologies developed and enhanced in this project will improve controlled environment agriculture productivity and operational efficiency and Vertical Future is in a position to deploy these immediately on earth where climatic shocks and international unrest impact food supply while geographical factors prevent the production of various staple foods nationally. 

The project was established via an international collaboration supported by the UK Space Agency, NASA, and Australian Space Agency (ASA). It brings together fellow World Economic Forum Innovator Axiom Space, mission operations experts Saber Astronautics as well as research partners from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space (Universities of Adelaide, Western Australia and Cambridge) and iLAuNCH (University of Southern Queensland) with additional support from South Australian Space Industry Centre (SASIC).

Commenting on the milestone, Dr Jen Bromley, Chief Scientific Officer and Autonomous Agriculture Project Lead at VF, said: “The further we go into space, the more we will need to produce while we’re there, be it food, biomaterials, or medicines. Plants are able to be the biofactories to cover all of these needs. The ability to reliably grow off-Earth is not yet realised as the technologies to achieve this haven’t yet been implemented away from Earth at the scale required to sustain life. The autonomous agriculture project puts VF and the UK at the front and centre, leading and defining a new category for the commercial space sector: Agri-Space. The skills and sector-specific knowledge brought by our incredible partners are crucial to delivering the project, including sensor development critical to delivering an autonomous growing environment and enabling fine-tuning of parameters that cannot be tested outside of a micro-gravity environment.”

Jana Stoudemire, Director, In-Space Manufacturing at Axiom Space said: “This project embodies our commitment to improve life on Earth and foster the possibilities beyond it, building a home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. CEA systems address not only physiological benefits but psychological benefits to crew health and can serve as biomanufacturing facilities as well. Autonomous agriculture systems support future Commercial LEO Destinations and enable exploration initiatives for Lunar and Mars missions. As we go further in space exploration, the need for on-demand production is a critical component that presents an opportunity for the UK to lead in the development of technology providing food and producing plants to develop medicine and materials to 3D print structures and tools that we can’t take with us but will need in these new environments.”

Professor Anu Ojha, Director of Championing Space at the UK Space Agency, said:

“Our International Bilateral Fund bolsters international collaboration that harnesses the UK’s national expertise, supports new space capabilities, and catalyses investment. Supporting innovative projects like the development of a robotic ‘space farm’ facility to grow plants in space is a great opportunity to showcase the UK as a spacefaring nation, whilst enhancing the wider UK space sector, creating jobs and generating further investment.”

Prof Matthew Gilliham, Director of P4S, headquartered at the Waite Research Institute, University of Adelaide, said: “Through incentivising international collaboration the UK Space Agency has brought together world-leading capabilities to deliver novel technologies that – in our case – will deliver sustainability solutions for Space and Earth’.”

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About Vertical Future 

Vertical Future (“VF”) is a global CEA technology and data company, headquartered in London and founded in 2016. VF designs, manufactures, and deploys autonomous vertical farms across the world into multiple use cases, from food through to pharmaceuticals, and soon-to-be reforestation. VF’s fully integrated model is unique globally with a goal of contributing to healthier people and planet. VF has raised over £37 million of funding to date, has received over 12 Innovate U.K. grants, and operates with a team of over 60 staff across engineering, software engineering, plant sciences, operations, and commercial. To find out more about Vertical Future, go to

About Axiom Space

Axiom Space is building for beyond, guided by the vision of a thriving home in space that benefits every human, everywhere. The leading provider of human spaceflight services and developer of human-rated space infrastructure, Axiom Space operates end-to-end missions to the International Space Station today while developing its successor, Axiom Station – the world’s first commercial space station in low-Earth orbit, which will sustain human growth off the planet and bring untold benefits back home. For more information about Axiom Space, visit

About the UK Space Agency

The UK Space Agency plays a major role in delivering the government’s National Space Strategy by catalysing investment into the space sector, delivering missions and capabilities, and championing space for the benefit of life on Earth.     

Our way of life on Earth depends on space. Satellites forecast the weather, keep businesses connected and products moving, and monitor our natural environment. They underpin the UK’s economy and support our critical national infrastructure. 

To achieve the greatest impact, the Agency focuses most of its resource behind eight delivery Priorities. These are: Discovery, Earth Observation, Innovation, Inspiration, Launch, LEO Capabilities, Levelling Up, Sustainability.

About the P4S ARC Centre of Excellence 

The ARC Centre of Excellence in Plants for Space aims to create on-demand, zero-waste, high-efficiency plants and plant products to address grand challenges in sustainability for Space and on Earth. Significant advances in plant, food, and sensory science; process and systems engineering; law and policy; and psychology are expected to deliver transformative solutions for Space habitation – and create enhanced plant-derived food and bioresources to capitalise upon emergent and rapidly expanding domestic and global markets. Anticipated outcomes include industry uptake of innovative plant forms, foods, technologies, and commodities; and an ambitious education and international coordination program for leading research that supports Space habitation. For further information, please go to

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