TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – NASA is partnering with the National Forest Service to distribute a living piece of spaceflight that people should hopefully be able to enjoy for the next several years.
According to NASA, educators and community members will soon have the chance to get living things that were once in zero gravity. NASA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give out Artemis Moon Tree seedlings that flew around the moon on the Artemis 1 mission in 2022, according to a press release from NASA.
Two thousand tree seeds rocketed into outer space as a way for people on Earth to connect with space exploration. There were five different species of seeds aboard the spacecraft: sycamores, sweetgums, Douglas firs, loblolly pines, and giant sequoias.
“NASA’s Artemis Moon Trees are bringing the science and ingenuity of space exploration back down to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said. “Last year, these seeds flew on the Artemis I mission 40,000 miles beyond the Moon. With the help of the USDA, this new generation of Moon Trees will plant the spirit of exploration across our communities and inspire the next generation of explorers.”
This isn’t the first time NASA has taken Moon Tree seedlings up to the exosphere. It happened once before more than 50 years ago. In 1971, Apollo 14 Command Module Pilot Stuart Roosa, who happened to be a former Forest Service smoke jumper, carried hundreds of seedlings in his personal kit, according to a press release. After Apollo 14’s return, the Forest Service germinated the seedlings across the nation, many as part of the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.
NASA is done with its mission, and the seeds are now back in this atmosphere, ready to be planted. The Forest Service germinated and grew the seeds into seedlings and is preparing to share Artemis Moon Trees with the nation, according to the press release.
“The seeds that flew on the Artemis mission will soon be Moon Trees standing proudly on campuses and institutions across the country,” Randy Moore, Forest Service Chief, said. “These future Moon Trees, like those that came before them, serve as a potent symbol that when we put our mind to a task, there is nothing we can’t accomplish. They will inspire future generations of scientists, whose research underpins all that we do here at the Forest Service.”
NASA encourages schools, libraries, museums and the public to apply to receive a seedling. To learn more about the seedlings and apply, click here. The deadline for applications is Friday, Oct. 6.