The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Advanced Life Support (ALS) Program is evaluating the use of Fe-, Mn-, and Cu-containing synthetic hydroxyapatite (SHA) as a slow release fertilizer for crops that might be grown on the International Space Station or at Lunar and Martian outposts. Separate Fe-, Mn-, and Cu-containing SHA materials along with a transition-metal free SHA (pure-SHA) were synthesized using a precipitation method. Chemical and mineralogical analyses determined if and how Fe, Mn, and Cu were incorporated into the SHA structure. X-ray diffraction (XRD), Rietveld refinement, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed that SHA materials with the apatite structure were produced. Chemical analyses indicated that the metal containing SHA materials were deficient in Ca relative to pure-SHA. The shift in the infrared PO4-mu 3 vibrations, smaller unit cell parameters, smaller particle size, and greater structural strain for Fe-, Mn-, and Cu-containing SHA compared with pure-SHA suggested that Fe, Mn, and Cu were incorporated into SHA structure. Rietveld analyses revealed that Fe, Mn, and Cu substituted into the Ca2 site of SHA. An Fe-rich phase was detected by TEM analyses and backscattered electron microscopy in the Fe-containing SHA material with the greatest Fe content. The substitution of metals into SHA suggests that metal-SHA materials are potential slow-release sources of micronutrients for plant uptake in addition to Ca and P.