Smith graduated from College with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Chemistry from Florida Institute of Technology in 2005. Since then, he has received several awards during his 10 year career at NASA, including a Spaceflight Awareness Award, a KSC Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Leadership, two NASA Superior Accomplishment Awards for Leadership, and more than 18 Space Act Awards for Inventions and Innovations. Trent also has more than 12 patents granted or pending, and has authored two book chapters in addition to 18 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles and government reports.
Smith joined NASA in 2003 as a polymer chemist in support of the Space Shuttle Program and led materials investigations on problematic issues, such as foam liberation and icing concerns. He worked on issues that contributed to mission failures, some of them included the Columbia accident, and NASA’s Return to Flight mission after the accident. In 2008 Trent joined the NASA Launch Vehicle Processing Directorate as a vehicle-processing engineer. He worked on the Ares test rocket, and then began to prepare for the retirement of the Space Shuttle program.
In 2010, as NASA began to look at commercializing human based flight operations into lower orbit flight missions that included the International Space station (ISS), NASA formed a new operations group called the Space Transportation Planning Office. In 2011, within that group, Trent Smith began working on strategic communications for the Program Control and Integration Office of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is where Trent began to work on the Veggie Production System (Veggie), designed to grow vegetables in space for when humans actually colonize on Mars! By definition, the Veggie System is “a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with a palatable, nutritious, and safe source of fresh food and a tool to support relaxation and recreation.The Veggie provides lighting and nutrient delivery, but utilizes the cabin environment for temperature control and as a source of carbon dioxide to promote growth.” http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/383.html
Trent Smith oversees this operation on the ISS, and the operations do the following:
- VEGGIE is deployed in an Expedite the Processing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Rack.
- The pillows with seeds in them are installed on to a root mat, which is installed into the VEGGIE bellows.
- Power is applied and water is added to the root mat to begin seed germination.
- Water and growth height is maintained throughout the plant growth cycle until the vegetables are harvested and the growth cycle can be restarted.
NASA and Orbitec are partners in this research, and Trent is the project and facility manager for this research, which is estimated to initially run from 2013-2016.