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Last Post 10/20/2008 12:39 PM by  Pat Reiff
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10/20/2008 12:32 AM

    If you went on a space mission, what hobby of yours would you like to try in space? How would you think it would work? Would it be a disaster to try to or would it work better then it would work on earth?

    Carly G.

    Tags: Hydroponics, International Space Station, fisheye, photography, eclipse

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    10/20/2008 8:58 AM

    Hi Carly,

    If I went on a space mission, I think I would try growing orchids in space. There would be a lot of unique challenges involved, since some orchids have very specific light and temperature requirements. I would also need special equipment to grow the plants, since growing them in regular flower pots with the usual soil/pine bark mixture or sphagnum moss probably would not work very well in a microgravity environment.

    However, many orchids are epiphytes, which means they do not normally grow in soil. Instead, they use their roots to anchor themselves to the trunk of a tree. Even though they naturally attach to trees, these plants are not parasites - they get their nutrients from rainwater. They way most orchids are grown in greenhouses (stuffed into flower pots filled with a pine bark potting mix) is therefore NOT the way they would grow in the wild. People have been experimenting ways of growing orchids that don't need soil, such as growning them in hydroponic or semi-hydroponic media. A lot of orchids do quite well when grown this way. I pasted a photo below from the Eastern Iowa Orchid Society's most recent newsletter showing me with some of my dendrobium orchids. These plants are being grown in a semi-hydroponic medium - basically porous ceramic pellets that hold water. The pellets look like dog food on the outside, but when you break them open, they look a bit like black pumice on the inside. The drainage holes in the plastic pots in the photo are on the side instead of the bottom like on a normal flower pot. This creates a reservoir of water in the bottom of the pot so that the water can wick up through the ceramic pellets to keep the plants moist.

    Kris Sigsbee's Orchids

    It just so happens that astronauts on the International Space Station have been experimenting with growing plants hydroponically in a microgravity environment. You can read more about these experiments here:


    Growing plants in space can help provide food on long space missions and help keep the air breathable and water drinkable on board the spacecraft. Growing orchids wouldn't help with food, but maybe they could help with air and water purification. Plus, the pretty flowers would help brighten up the space capsule!


    Mandy Hagenaar

    New Member

    New Member

    10/20/2008 10:31 AM

    Hi Carly,

    I would bring a lot of books and CDs, maybe some crochet. Also definitely lots of paper or canvas and paint some beautiful space scenes. The problem with painting is that it may be messy and it's hard to clean with a limited amount of water. I guess cleaning with terpentine is not an option, so no oil paint. Crayons or pencils? Computer games may be fun but get boring after a few hours. Keeping a diary about the space experience would also be very helpful for future space travellers.



    Pat Reiff

    New Member

    New Member

    10/20/2008 12:39 PM
    I would take my fisheye camera to make a "fulldome" planetarium show about living in space. We got some fisheye images from the astronauts on STS120 - they took one of our cameras aboard. I would love to take a fisheye movie camera but there isn't one that's space qualified yet. Here is my fisheye image of the eclipse this summer from China. (You can see it on
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