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

Video: A colorful 'landing' on Pluto

January 20, 2017

What would it be like to actually land on Pluto? This movie was made from more than 100 images taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over six weeks of approach and close flyby in the summer of 2015. The video offers a trip ...

Freeze-dried food and 1 bathroom: 6 simulate Mars in dome

January 20, 2017

Crammed into a dome with one bathroom, six scientists will spend eight months munching on mostly freeze-dried foods—with a rare treat of Spam—and have only their small sleeping quarters to retreat to for solace.

The evolution of massive galaxy clusters

January 20, 2017

Galaxy clusters have long been recognized as important laboratories for the study of galaxy formation and evolution. The advent of the new generation of millimeter and submillimeter wave survey telescopes, like the South ...

Image: Wavemaker moon Daphnis

January 20, 2017

The wavemaker moon, Daphnis, is featured in this view, taken as NASA's Cassini spacecraft made one of its ring-grazing passes over the outer edges of Saturn's rings on Jan. 16, 2017. This is the closest view of the small ...

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.