In 2015 apple pips from the iconic Newton tree were taken on the Principia mission by British astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station. The pips then spent six months floating in micro gravity as part of the ‘Pips in Space’ project before returning to Earth in 2016.
On their return from space in 2016, the well-travelled pips went to Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex and home to the Millennium Seed Bank, where they spent 90 days at 5°C to simulate the winter cold needed to break dormancy. In May 2017, they were warmed to 15°C and the young seedlings started to emerge.
The UK Space Agency, the National Trust and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, worked together on the project. Following my successful bid, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre in Widnes was selected to share the story of space travel, Isaac Newton, horticulture and the excitement of science. To celebrate its arrival, Catalyst will be hosting a new exhibition on the story of the space sapling alongside a community engagement project. The tree will be set into the landscape of Spike Island, close to Catalyst, by Halton Borough Council who will care for it thereafter.