First flowers in space bloom on space station

January 18, 2016 by Emilee Speck, Orlando Sentinel
The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Credit: NASA/Crew of STS-132

The first flower grown in space has bloomed. NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, International Space Station gardener, shared photos of the prized zinnias this weekend.

"Yes, there are other in space," Kelly said on Twitter.

The story of the delicate space flowers is fraught with ups and downs, similar to gardens on Earth.

Just last month, the small crop wasn't looking good. The leaves and buds were covered in mold because of a leak in the plant container.

"I'm going to have to channel my inner Mark Watney," Kelly posted then, referencing the potato-growing skills of the astronaut in "The Martian."

An unplanned spacewalk delayed fixing the problem in the garden and by Dec. 22 they were dying, said NASA's Trent Smith. Kelly had to act quickly to cut away the moldy leaves and dry the plant chamber.

By Jan. 12 the were on the rebound and some buds had sprouted, Kelly said.

Astronaut nurses zinnia to full bloom after mold invasion
This image made available by NASA via Twitter posted on Jan. 17, 2016 by space station commander Scott Kelly, shows a zinnia flower out in the sun at the International Space Station. Last month, Kelly had to fight off mold that threatened to kill all the flowers in the space station's mini-greenhouse. (Scott Kelly/NASA via AP)

The bright zinnias are not the first crop of the Veggie experiment, but the lessons from their growing process could be applied to tomatoes, also a flowering planet, said Smith.

Red romaine was the first crop from the Veggie plant growth facility, installed in May 2014. Kelly and Astronaut Kjell Lindgren snacked on the second crop of lettuce in July 2015; the first crop was sent back to Earth for analysis. The third round of the experiments will include Chinese cabbage and more lettuce.

Explore further: US astronauts testify from Space Station

3375 shares

Related Stories

US astronauts testify from Space Station

December 2, 2015

On his 249th consecutive day in space, U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly told Congress that what he misses most is his friends and family on Earth and the chance to experience nature.

Image: NASA Astronaut Tim Kopra on Dec. 21 spacewalk

December 23, 2015

Expedition 46 Flight Engineer Tim Kopra on a Dec. 21, 2015 spacewalk, in which Kopra and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly successfully moved the International Space Station's mobile transporter rail car ahead of Wednesday's ...

Recommended for you

NASA Learns More About Interstellar Visitor 'Oumuamua

November 14, 2018

In November 2017, scientists pointed NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope toward the object known as 'Oumuamua—the first known interstellar object to visit our solar system. The infrared Spitzer was one of many telescopes pointed ...

Gravitational waves from a merged hyper-massive neutron star

November 14, 2018

For the first time astronomers have detected gravitational waves from a merged, hyper-massive neutron star. The scientists, Maurice van Putten of Sejong University in South Korea, and Massimo della Valle of the Osservatorio ...

The dance of the small galaxies that surround the Milky Way

November 14, 2018

An international team led by researchers from the IAC used data from the ESA satellite Gaia to measure the motion of 39 dwarf galaxies. This data gives information on the dynamics of these galaxies, their histories and their ...

Galaxies like Russian dolls

November 13, 2018

Jairo Méndez Abreu and Adriana de Lorenzo-Cáceres, researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), have discovered a peanut-shaped structure in the inner bar of a double-barred galaxy close to the Milky ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.