For the first time, a flower bloomed in space, a Zinnia, to be exact. After successfully growing sunflowers and lettuce, the international space station made another great step with edible flowers.

This time, the leaps are larger, considering the Zinnia is much harder to grow, needing special attention and varied amounts of sunlight exposure. The plant also has longer growth duration, between 60 and 80 days.

Commander of Gardening in Space

NASA astronaut John Kelly brought Zinnias to life in space, as part of the veggie program. Kelly endured a long battle with mold, excessive moisture and over-drying.

In a tweet, Scott Kelly said,

“Our plants aren’t looking too good. Would be a problem on Mars. I’m going to have to channel my inner Mark Whatney.”

It seems that he did channel Mark Whatney, the fictional space survivalist from the novel, Martian. In January, the Zinnia was in full bloom!

“Some of my flowers are on the rebound. No longer looking sad!” says Kelly.

It must have felt nice to be named “commander” of veggie gardening, or the autonomous gardener. On Christmas Eve, Kelly received the right to independently water and feed the Zinnias, bypassing the responsibility from earth’s directives.

It seems the most recent gardening attempt was successful, to say the least!

01-First Flower Grown in Space

02-First Flower Grown in Space

03-First Flower Grown in Space

Moving Forward

NASA says that growing plants on the space station could tide the astronauts over during long journeys. Kelly is joined by NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake, and cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, Sergey Volkov and Yuri Malenchenko.

It is obvious, we are creating a higher quality of life for astronauts.

In fact, Kelly’s next move is to try his hand at tomato plants. These plants are only a step more difficult than Zinnias and a step closer to our future in space colonization!Kelly, along with Kornienko will end the year-long stay in March.

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By Valerie S.

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