It may be just a humble zinnia, but it can proudly take its place with the likes of Neil Armstrong. This is the first flower to bloom in space, an achievement NASA is beaming about.
According to the space agency’s press release, the credit for the amazing gardening project goes to astronauts Kjell Lindgren, who initiated it in November, and Scott Kelly, who made the first bloom possible.
The crew of the International Space Station has been active in botanical projects since the Veggie plant-growing facility was installed there back in May 2014 (much before Matt Damon started gardening on Mars).
The Veggie facility is a mainly automated system that enables water distribution and artificial light in a limited gravity environment that simulates plant-growing conditions similar to those on earth.
Astronaut Lindgren had noticed a month into the project that the “flowers weren’t looking too good”, seeking help from ground control. He was sent a manual to overcome the problem but had to hand over gardening duties to US astronaut Scott Kelly when he left the station in December. It was then decided that Kelly would personally tend to the plants just as he would in his backyard garden. He successfully nursed the plants back to health and this first flower is testament to his efforts.
The ‘botanical breakthrough ‘ is significant as it will help scientists to better understand the way plants could be grown in microgravity. For the rest of us, it’s nice to know that human beings will have flowers even in space.