(PRWEB) December 8, 2007 — How many Ph.D.s does it take to open a NASA space seed container? That was just one of the many questions discussed when Dr. Bill Kinard from NASA visited Park Seed Company recently to deliver approximately 1 million Cinnamon Basil seeds that spent a year orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station. The seeds were donated by Park Seed as part of their long-standing Seeds in Space partnership with NASA. Now that the space seeds are back home in Greenwood, South Carolina, they will be packed and eventually made available to students around the U.S. for science projects. Park Seed and NASA have been jointly promoting hands-on science education since 1983 (http://www.parkseed.com/seedsinspace).
The Cinnamon Basil seeds were taken aloft on July 4, 2006, on space shuttle Discovery as part of mission STS-121. They were 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. Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-118) retrieved the MISSE suitcase and brought the seeds back to Earth on August 21, 2007.
Also on STS-118 was an additional batch of Cinnamon Basil seeds that will be distributed to teachers who are participating in NASA’s Engineering Design Challenge: Lunar Plant Growth Chamber. Gardeners who are looking for an interesting service project are encouraged to find local teachers to partner with in this multi-disciplinary experiential learning opportunity. Teachers can sign up at NASA’s website.
By the way, it turns out that it takes two Ph.D.’s to open a space seed container. The cylinders are tightly torqued to NASA specifications to ensure that the seeds do not escape during space flight. To see pictures of the seed containers being loaded and sealed in preparation for take-off, visit http://www.parkseedmemories.com and click on the Space photo album.