Astronauts have grown cabbage and tomatoes in space. They have watched flowers bloom. Now, a seed experiment — scheduled to head to the International Space Station at 4:39 a.m. EDT (watch the liftoff live here) — will help to determine how much a key molecule that allows plants to grow upright against Earth's gravity can be tailored in plants grown in space.
Why it matters: The experiment is another step toward long-term space living and the colonization of other planets, which would require astronauts to grow plants for food and to recycle them as a source of oxygen and carbon. It could also help to improve growing techniques here on Earth.