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A bright orange zinnia has grown for the first time in space, in zero gravity, and without soil. The zinnia, an edible flowering plant, was planted aboard the International Space Station's Veggie chamber last November to help provide precursory information about other flowering plants that could be grown in space. NASA has already grown plants, such as lettuce and wheat, in space but never a flower has bloomed.

“The zinnia plant is very different from lettuce, said Trent Smith, Veggie project manager. “It is more sensitive to environmental parameters and light characteristics. It has a longer growth duration between 60 and 80 days. Thus, it is a more difficult plant to grow, and allowing it to flower, along with the longer growth duration, makes it a good precursor to a tomato plant.”

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