For the first time, a zinnia flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Successfully growing flowers brings cosmic explorers closer to growing flowering food crops, like tomatoes, on longer space missions in the future.
On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored zinnia to blossom.
This wasn’t the first time flowering plants have blossomed in space, though. There have been many, according to NASA, from wheat, to barley, to brassicas and peas, grown more than a decade ago on the Russian Mir space station and on the ISS.
Regardless, the zinnia bloom was a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shriveled.