Half a Million Children a Step Closer to Rocket Science

Friday 4 March 2016

Royal Horticultural Society and UK Space Agency rocket seeds returned to Earth from International Space Station this week

Half a million children across the UK are a step closer to Rocket Science this week as rocket seeds that will be grown as part of Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and UK Space Agency educational initiative, Rocket Science, have returned from the International Space Station (ISS).

The seeds travelled with American NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, and Russian Space Agency cosmonauts Mikhail Korienko and Sergey Volkov on the Soyuz spacecraft on Wednesday 2 March, landing on the Kazakh Steppe in Northern Kazakhstan. They were then flown from Moscow to NASA, Houston via Stavanger in Norway for refuelling. The seeds will now make their way back to the UK, to be packaged and delivered to schools and educators across the country.

The 2kg of seeds were flown to the ISS in September 2015, where they have been orbiting the Earth at a speed of 17,000mph. In January this year British European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake sent a special video message to schools from the ISS across the country inviting them to help with this unique space food mission.

In April, children and young people across the country will embark on a 35-day voyage of discovery to find out what growing plants in space can teach us about life on Earth and whether we can sustain human life in space in the future. Results will be collected and analysed by biostatisticians and published later in 2016, feeding into the real life work taking place in space science research. *Please see notes to editors for a regional breakdown of current registered schools and educational organisations.

Claire Custance, RHS Skills Development Manager, said: “This is a thrilling week for us as well as children and young people up and down the country as they come a step closer to receiving their very special Rocket Science seeds, and taking part in this unique project. We are very excited to be able to work with the UK Space Agency to engage so many young people in horticulture and science.”

Children and young people of all ages (from early years right up to university level) and all abilities are encouraged to take part in the initiative. To register for Rocket Science, organisations will be asked to either log into the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website or become a member of the Campaign. Membership is free and includes many benefits including a free welcome pack.

Find out more and sign up here: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/Competitions/Rocket-Science-Application-Form  (Please note that spaces are now limited so we cannot guarantee seeds to all that apply

Follow the mission with the RHS and get involved online by tweeting @RHSSchools, using #RocketScience.

For more information please contact Siobhán MacMahon in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3043 or siobhanmacmahon@rhs.org.uk
Images are available from PhotoShelter at www.rhs.photoshelter.com . Registration is a simple process and free of charge. Please contact pressoffice@rhs.org.uk  to gain access.


Notes to editors

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS Campaign for School Gardening actively involves more than 23,000 schools and educational organisations across the UK in horticulture. It aims to inspire young people about plants, gardening and their environment and consider further education and careers in horticulture and science. Through gardening they learn about healthy food and wildlife as well as important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Resources including information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS Education team and RHS Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. Schools and youth organisations can sign up to RHS Campaign for School Gardening online: https://schoolgardening.rhs.org.uk/home

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood to inspire passion and excellence in the science, art and practice of horticulture. Our vision is to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener, healthier, happier and more beautiful place. We believe everyone in every village, town and city should benefit from growing plants to enhance lives, build stronger, healthier, happier communities and create better places to live.

We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, our flagship garden, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity. At our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes we inspire a passion for gardening and growing plants, promote the value of gardens, demonstrate how gardening is good for us and explain the vital roles that plants undertake.

The RHS is committed to bring the joy of gardening to millions more people, inspire the next generation of gardeners and invest in the future to safeguard a £10.4 billion industry employing more than 300,000 people. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters. RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and help us secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 020 3176 5820, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

About the UK Space Agency
The UK Space Agency is responsible for all strategic decisions on the UK civil space programme and provides a clear, single voice for UK space ambitions.
At the heart of UK efforts to explore and benefit from space, we are responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. We lead the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefit to all citizens.

We work to:
• co-ordinate UK civil space activity
• encourage academic research
• support the UK space industry
• raise the profile of UK space activities at home and abroad
• increase understanding of space science and its practical benefits
• inspire our next generation of UK scientists and engineers
• licence the launch and operation of UK spacecraft
• promote co-operation and participation in the European Space programme

About the European Space Agency
The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.
ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 22 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 20 are Member States of the EU.
ESA has established formal cooperation with seven other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country. It is working in particular with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int


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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262