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Space Shuttle returns first soybeans grown on Space Station in commercial farming experiment

d nutritional value? Can elite seeds be produced that will improve farmers' crop yields and the quality of plants products used in consumer products?

Zhou and Corbin hope to begin answering these questions by analyzing the space-grown plants and seeds. On Earth, the development of naturally bred crop seeds is time consuming, usually taking several years. If this process can be accelerated with space-grown, plants, it would make the Station an attractive research laboratory for industry to use in crop development.

"As a science company, DuPont knows that future research opportunities may come from totally different venues and needs as we look ahead," said Dr. Thomas M. Connelly, DuPont's chief science and technology officer. "The discovery process often requires exploring in unprecedented avenues to unleash the next wave of innovation, and we are committed to discovering new and meaningful innovation wherever it is."

Growing plants in space could provide salads for future space crews, but they also may bring other psychological and biological benefits. When she first saw the growing soybeans, Whitson, an Iowa native, reported in an e-mail letter home to family and friends, "It was surprising to me how great soybean plants looked. I guess seeing something green for the first time in a month and a half had a real effect. I think it's interesting that the reaction was as dramatic as it wasguess if we go to Mars, we need a garden!"

Over the next few months, Whitson will continue her gardening duties, tending a crop of mustard plants that will soon be growing inside the Plant Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus -- designed and built by BioServe Space Technologies, a NASA Commercial Space Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wis., and the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., which also has grown plants on the Station, and a consortium of industri
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Contact: Steve Roy
steve.roy@msfc.nasa.gov
256-544-0034
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center News Center
1-Nov-2002


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