NASA astronaut Frank Rubio was doing a harvest of the International Space Station (ISS) “garden” back in March when an inch-in-diameter tomato went missing. After missing for more than eight months, the tomato has come home!!
During the December 6th livestream of the ISS’ 25th anniversary, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli said “Our good friend Frank Rubio, who headed home [already], has been blamed for quite a while for eating the tomato. But we can exonerate him. We found the tomato.” While not confirming the appearance or location of the tomato when it was found, it was interesting to learn he had lost it.
Harvested as part of the Veg-05 experiment, Rubio had helped tend the garden through its growing pains, and its fall turned into a big inside joke for him and the crew. While each received samples following the March 29th harvest, it wasn’t publicly acknowledged until September 13th when Rubio was honored for his incredible time in space. Originally slated for a six-month stint, he found his time being doubled when his Russian Soyuz spacecraft encountered massive issues, resulting in a six-month wait for a replacement.
During that livestream, he joked about it being lost in space. Given the fact that the ISS is bigger than a six-bedroom house, and things float with ease, it’s not surprising that it went missing. Often floating away to far-off corners, the typical places to check, like vent intakes, proved fruitless. Only searching in his downtime, Rubio and his fellow crew members completed hundreds of their other experiments.