In recent years, Chinese scientists have sent more than thirty kinds of plant seeds into space, including many varieties of vegetables and medicinal herbs. The seeds are sown in unmanned spacecraft before being sent into orbit to grow as best they can in zero gravity. Now scientists at the Kewei Space Plant Propagation Base in northern Hebei province say they have successfully retrieved some of the space seedlings and replanted them back on earth. And the plants appear to be flourishing.
The researchers say plants grown from space seeds have larger leaves, stronger stems and are more resistant to pests than plants grown in the conventional way. The research could have profound implications for China which is struggling to feed a burgeoning population. And plants may not be the only items on the menu. China announced in April that three eggs which had been sent into space in an unmanned capsule had hatched successfully, to become the first space chickens.