Plant Biology

Space Saplings To Inspire The Next Newton

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
January 13, 2020
Filed under
Space Saplings To Inspire The Next Newton
Newton's Apple Tree

Eight saplings grown from pips taken from Isaac Newton’s apple tree and flown in space by ESA astronaut Tim Peake are being planted across the UK and Europe.

The seeds – taken from the 400-year-old tree in the garden of Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire – spent six months floating in microgravity as part of Tim Peake’s mission to the International Space Station in 2015.

After the pips were returned to Earth, they were germinated in the seed bank laboratories at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and raised in a nursery there.

The saplings are now being planted at locations across the UK to help inspire the next generation of scientists. A further specimen is due to be given to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienna.

Speaking at a planting ceremony held at Woolsthorpe Manor, Tim Peake said: “These trees are truly unique. They come from the iconic apple tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton to ponder the forces of gravitation and continues to inspire to this day.

“My mission to space was named Principia in homage to Newton’s defining work that included his world-changing ideas about gravity. I wanted my Principia mission to inspire others, particularly young people, with the adventure of space and the excitement of science.

“Now, thanks to the careful nurturing at Kew, the apple pips that flew with me into space have grown into fine young trees which I hope will continue to inspire potential Isaac Newtons.”

The saplings are being planted at locations that represent a mix of fields including educational, research, science, arboreal and horticultural organisations. They include the Eden Project in Cornwall, Jodrell Bank in Cheshire and the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex.

Andrea Leadsom, UK Business Secretary, said: “Tim Peake’s remarkable achievement as the first UK astronaut to walk in space has captured the imagination of a generation of British school children. As their curiosity grows along with these space saplings, we can only marvel at the precious achievements that lie ahead in space exploration.

“We are determined to make the UK a science superpower and are backing the space industry to ensure we are at the cutting-edge of achievements in space technology.”

In November 2019, the UK Space Agency announced it will invest £374 million per year with ESA to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻