RHS Boldly Goes Where None Have Gone Before Turning Half a Million UK Children into Space Biologists

Tuesday 19 May 2015

• UK Space Agency partners with leading gardening charity to unveil Rocket Science project at RHS Chelsea Flower Show this month
• Project will send rocket salad seeds into space as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s historic mission to the International Space Station
• Up to 10,000 UK schools to take part in nationwide horticultural
‘citizen science’ experiment







Seeds of salad rocket will be sent by rocket to the International Space Station.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Campaign for School Gardening has partnered with the UK Space Agency to embark on an innovative educational project, to be launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show (19 – 23 May 2015). The project, Rocket Science, will give around half a million children the chance to learn how investment in human space exploration contributes to our knowledge of life on Earth, using the invaluable expertise of the European Space Agency (ESA) and RHS Science team.

Rocket Science will involve 2kg of an as-yet un-named cultivar of rocket seeds (Eruca sativa, a popular salad variety) sent to the International Space Station as part of British ESA astronaut Tim Peake’s six-month Principia mission. After several months on board, orbiting the planet at 17,000mph, the seeds will be returned to Earth and sent to thousands of UK schools, alongside a batch of seeds of the same cultivar that have stayed on Earth. Over the following months pupils will grow and compare the seeds as they embark on a voyage of discovery to see whether we can sustain human life in space through the production of our own food. The results of the nationwide citizen science experiment will then be analysed to discover whether space travel has impacted on the growth of the seeds.

British ESA astronaut Tim Peake said: ‘It’s a huge privilege to be the first British ESA astronaut flying to the International Space Station. During my six-month tour, I’ll be conducting a number of experiments on the International Space Station. I hope that Rocket Science will inspire the next generation to think scientifically, and to consider the fulfilling careers in STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths].’ Visit http://youtu.be/5y_IIbAiFCM to see Tim talk about the project and encourage schools to sign up.

Minister for Universities and Science Jo Johnson said: ‘Britain’s space industry is going from strength to strength, and for this to continue it’s right we inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. ‘Rocket Science’ is doing just that by giving thousands of schoolchildren the opportunity to play a part in Tim’s mission to the International Space Station, while learning new skills in a fun and unique way.’

To introduce the project, an inspiring exhibition will be on show in the Discovery Zone at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, complete with a real-life Mars Rover and a team of ESA’s leading scientists on hand to talk about their work in this field. Set across four zones, interactive displays will take the visitor through the past, present and future of plants in space, discovering the important role scientists play in helping plants to thrive in inhospitable conditions, how space exploration helps solve problems on Earth and even the plants astronauts need to survive long-term missions.

Claire Custance, RHS Skills Development Manager – Education & Learning, said: ‘Rocket Science is a really exciting project for us, and a unique chance to get even more schools engaging with horticulture and science. Working with a partner like the UK Space Agency brings a fresh and exciting perspective on horticulture in the National Curriculum. We look forward to discovering the results of the nationwide experiment.’

Further details of the project will be made available following its launch at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Schools will be able to apply for seeds from September 2015 via the RHS Campaign for School Gardening website. rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening  

Along with the seeds, schools and other educational organisations will be able to use a comprehensive suite of teaching and learning resources that are being developed by the RHS Campaign for School Gardening and Science and Plants for schools. Resources for both primary and secondary schools will be available, and will include suggestions on scientific investigations and experiments inspired by the project and even details on how to design and build a table top Mars greenhouse.


Notes to editors

For more information on the Rocket Science project or RHS Campaign for School Gardening, contact Adam Budhram in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3366 adambudhram@rhs.org.uk

Due to the nature of space travel, there is no guarantee the seeds will leave Earth and return in the timeframes given. Should there be any complications, the experiment will be rescheduled for a later date.

This project forms part of a larger suite of schools activities from computing in space to viewing the Earth and from fitness and diet to experiments in space. Full details can be found at www.esero.org.uk/timpeake or sign up for a newsletter on the UK Space Agency web site.

About the RHS Campaign for School Gardening
The RHS actively involves around 19,000 schools across the UK in growing and gardening through its Campaign for School Gardening. Children are taught about plants and gardening and their environment. Through gardening they learn about healthy fruit and vegetables, wildlife and important life skills such as teamwork, social skills and co-operation. Huge benefits are to be had from using an outdoor classroom where children can learn in a fun, engaging way. Information, lesson plans and advice for schools is provided online and is backed up by support from the RHS education team and Campaign for School Gardening Regional Advisors. rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening

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, the agency is responsible for ensuring that the UK retains and grows a strategic capability in space-based systems, technologies, science and applications. It leads the UK’s civil space programme in order to win sustainable economic growth, secure new scientific knowledge and provide benefit to all citizens.

The UK Space Agency works 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 the 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

For more information on the UK Space Agency or Principia mission, please contact Julia Short at julia.short@ukspaceagency.bis.gsi.gov.uk

The RHS Campaign for School Gardening and the UK Space Agency would like to thank
the following supporters who have donated materials, resources and time to bring the
Rocket Science stand to life at RHS Chelsea Flower Show:

Airbus – airbus.com
Bulrush Horticulture Ltd – bulrush.co.uk
PhytoLux – phytolux.com
Tozer Seeds – www.tozerseeds.com
Madestein UK Ltd
Ginger Horticulture – gingerhorticulture.co.uk
May Barn Consultancy – maybarnconsultancy.co.uk


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 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, are likely soon to become new ESA Member States.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with six other Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.
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.

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

About the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Images of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show are available to download at www.photoshelter.com
Please email the RHS Press Office at showspr@rhs.org.uk for instructions on how to create an account.

Full details of all exhibitors are available on the RHS Media Centre. Please visit http://press.rhs.org.uk/

RHS Chelsea Flower Show (19 – 23 May 2015)
18 May Press Day
19 – 20 May RHS members only
21 – 23 May RHS members and non-members
19 – 22 May 8am – 8pm
23 May 8am – 5.30pm (sell off starts at 4pm)

Venue: Royal Hospital, Chelsea, London SW3 4SL

To book tickets 0844 338 7546 or www.rhs.org.uk/chelsea  

Ticket prices range from £24 to £99. Tickets must be booked in advance

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 over 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: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262


Latest press releases

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