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First soybeans grown in space similar to Earth-grown crops

WILMINGTON, Del., June 10, 2003 -- In unprecedented space research, DuPont scientists have discovered that soybeans grown in space are similar to earth-grown crops unleashing the ability to sustainably grow vegetation to support long-term human presence in space. Soybeans are one of the most consumed crops in the world today.

During a DuPont research mission that concluded with the return of Space Shuttle Atlantis in October, soybean seeds planted and nurtured by DuPont scientists germinated, developed into plants, flowered, and produced new seedpods in space aboard the International Space Station. The 97-day growth research initiative was the first ever to complete a major crop growth cycle in space from planting seeds to growing new seeds.

With 83 space-grown soybean seeds on earth since October, DuPont conducted several analytical studies on the harvested seeds. The space-grown seeds were manually split with one part of the seed sowed to grow and the other half grounded to examine its biological characteristics. The space-grown seeds and their subsequent plants were compared to a variety of independent earth-grown soybean seeds and plants. After several months of analysis, DuPont researchers discovered that the space-grown soybeans when compared to earth-grown soybeans were similar in physical and biological characteristics, developmental rate, morphology, and seed yields. Scientists, who will continue to monitor the initiative, noted the space-grown seeds were higher in sugar content, but lower in oil and amino acid content, presumably due to the higher carbon dioxide levels on the International Space Station.

"This clearly demonstrates soybeans can be grown as a crop in space to provide both food and serve as an atmospheric scrubber for long-term space travel," said Dr. Tom Corbin, DuPont lead researcher on the initiative. "This project was a great success. When we started, we were unsure if the seeds would even remain p
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Contact: Anthony Farina
anthony.r.farina@usa.dupont.com
302-774-4114
DuPont
10-Jun-2003


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