It may not be the only life form on the ISS, but it is a first: a blooming flower. And it's all about the science.
Here it is. The first flower to bloom in space is an orange zinnia - that is, at least, the first flower known to us on Earth. US astronaut Scott Kelly presented the flower to the world with this photo on Twitter.
The astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) have been growing various plants for months. The American space agency, NASA, is experimenting with its "Veggie" program to study how plants grow and flourish at near zero gravity conditions. The plants are kept on the ISS under red, blue and green LED light.
Source of food
The experiments are part of preparations for longer missions and flights, such as to the planet Mars. Self-cultivated vegetables could be a source of food for space explorers on future "long-haul" missions.
In August 2015, the six-member crew of the ISS ate - for the first time - salad they had grown themselves.
NASA's Gioia Massa says the nascent zinnia did not grow perfectly, but that the experiment has given them new insights into plant cultivation in space.
However, according to Guinness World Records, the ISS astronauts are not the first ever gardeners in space. In 1982, Soviet cosmonauts cultivated plants on the Salyut 7 space station.
cw/wl/za/glb (dpa, twitter.com)