About Us

Welcome to SAAS Missions




SAAS Missions (Science and Agricultural Application in Space Missions) is student group working towards biological and agricultural experiments in space with the vision to contribute to feeding future space travellers and colonies. We are based at the Australian Centre of Astrobiology at the University of New South Wales. With a mixture of earth based experiments, rocket experiments and future flights to the International Space Station, our goals have no limit in feeding humans in the future.

SAAS was officially founded in early 2019 by  Scarlett Li-Williams, current Team Lead  and MPhil student at the University of New South Wales, a project she has been working towards since 2017. The project started from a  first year student finding space exciting and growing crops in space an interesting idea to now having international and national partners and supporters from universities, institutes and companies trying to make it happen. With the mark of the recent rocket launch and the upcoming launch to the International Space Station, SAAS hopes to prove that not only is it possible to contribute to the space industry but that anybody can too, including young students.

Overview of our Missions 

Our current missions focus on the growth of legume crops in space conditions, outreach and education. We primarily work with a type of bacteria known as rhizobia, that are essential to healthy and successful plant growth of many crops (specifically legumes such as chickpeas and potatoes). This symbiotic relationship and balance between plant and bacteria is the focus of our research.


HUMMUS1 is currently undergoing data analysis after a successful rocket launch that had an experiment conducted on the payload of the rocket looking into the population growth on nitrogen fixing bacteria. HUMMUS2 is in its initial phase, marked but the arrival of the satellite (from the USA) for the experiment that will be conducted on the International Space Station in 2020. 



2018- Present


HUMMUS1 is a preliminary experiment looking into the survival of rhizobia, specifically for chickpea plant growth. The experiment compromised of putting these bacteria into a payload into a rocket, with the hope to see the effects of vibrations and g-forces acting upon a population and which growth environment would be best suited to the bacteria. HUMMUS1 was successfully launched and safely returned on Friday 19th April, with thanks to the AIAA UNSW’s rocketry team in Westmar, Queensland during the Australian Universities Rocketry Competition (AURC). The retrieved bacteria is currently being analysed and hopefully the effects will be able to be seen in the coming month. The experiment tested cultures of rhizobia in different environments; liquid broth, mini petri dishes and in bags of peat (a soil-like environment). With a ground control to compare the launched-rhizobia to, the experiment is to investigate the effects of vibrations and g-forces acting upon a population and which growth environment would be best suited to the bacteria in the HUMMUS2 launch.



The results of these will then carry forward towards the next mission-HUMMUS2.


HUMMUS2 will be an experiment on the International Space Station (to be launched April 2020), to study the effects of lunar and mars conditions on the bacteria and plant populations. In addition, as of last week, the announcement of HUMMUS2’s next milestone has been reached; with the delivery of a CubeSat being donated to the SAAS student team. This CubeSat is being kindly donated and pre-programmed from a prior biology mission ran by the International Space University in early 2019 on the International Space Station.


This mission is centred around high school student outreach and education in space science with partnerships with Fizzics Education in Australia and Magnitudio.io in the USA. Our team at SAAS Missions aim to run education workshops with students participating with the upcoming ExoLab-9 launch.  This will provide high school students with the opportunity to conduct research in space and. SAAS Missions missions will help teach students how to conduct scientific analysis on Earth.

The Team

Our incredible team are not only able to balance work and university studies but are dedicated to the success of the project. Due to being a university group we have had many contributors come and go but all have contributed to this mission to get it to where it is today.

We are always looking for volunteers who are students!