January 13, 2020 5.10 pm This story is over 46 months old

Astronaut plants ‘space sapling’ at Isaac Newton’s Grantham home

From Grantham to space and back down

A British astronaut has planted a space sapling at Sir Isaac Newton’s home in Grantham.

Tim Peake took seeds from the ‘Flower of Kent’ tree at Woolsthorpe Manor to the International Space Station.

The seeds spent six months floating in microgravity and then landed back on Earth in 2016 to be nurtured into young trees.

On their return, they went to Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, 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.

Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, the Eden Project in Cornwall, and the National Physical Laboratory in Middlesex will also home some of the eight trees.

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.

“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.”