|Seeds in Space History - Seeds in Space III: Engineering Challenge|
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Seeds in Space III: Engineering ChallengeThe current round of Seeds in Space kicked off on July 4th, 2006, with the liftoff of space shuttle Discovery for mission STS-121. This time, the Park Seed payload comprised about 1 million Cinnamon Basil seed. The seed were included as one of the experiments in MISSE 4. MISSE stands for Materials International Space Station Experiments, a series of experiments that attach a sturdy "suitcase" or Passive Experiment Container, to the outside of the International Space Station to test how various materials stand up to the rigors of outer space. Visit the Park Seed Memories blog to see a photo album of the seeds being prepared for space travel.
As with past missions, an equal amount of Cinnamon Basil seed was held at the Greenwood, SC national headquarters to be used as a control group for students' experiments with the space seeds.
The real centerpiece of Seeds in Space III, however, was Shuttle mission STS-118, which launched on August 8, 2007. U.S. Navy Commander Scott J. Kelly commanded the seven-person crew. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Charles O. Hobaugh was Endeavour's pilot. Veteran astronauts Richard A. Mastracchio and Dr. Dafydd (Dave) Williams of the Canadian Space Agency returned to space for their second missions. Barbara R. Morgan, Tracy E. Caldwell, Ph. D., and Benjamin Alvin Drew rounded out the crew as mission specialists.
STS-118’s primary mission was to continue building the International Space Station and included in its payload a third starboard truss segment for that purpose. However, this particular mission also had some very special aspects, both in terms of crew and payload.
First, Mission Specialist Barbara R. Morgan had more on her plate than just operating the shuttle’s robotic arm and performing other traditional astronaut duties. She is also a professional educator, and devoted some of her time to communicating with classrooms back on Earth via downlinks for live video-conferences.
Second, the payload contained some unusual items: two plant growth chambers and about 10 million more Cinnamon Basil seeds!
Despite some initial concerns about minor damage to protective tiles on the Shuttle's exterior, the Endeavour and her crew returned safely. The Shuttle landed at Kennedy Space Center on August 21, 2007. In fact, it returned a bit earlier than expected, to avoid encountering a hurricaine in the Atlantic. The mission lasted a total of 12 days, 17 hours, and 55 minutes.
NASA Seeds in Space
"Simply cutting off any deteriorating leaves, stems, or flowers can improve the overall appearance of a plant," Tracy DiSabato-Aust, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden-Planting & Pruning Techniques