NASA and the USDA are to work together, in space-based plant related research.
The aim of the collaborative project is to better understand biological cellular mechanisms. They hope it will lead to creative new ways to achieve three main goals – improve agriculture, protect the environment and contribute to better human health.
NASA says the agreement reflects their efforts to develop the space station as a national laboratory.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) hosted NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and Secretary of Agriculture Edward T. Schafer during the signing of a memorandum of understanding that will allow the USDA Agricultural Research Service to conduct their plant related research in the environment of the International Space Station.
It was Senator Hutchison who introduced the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, allowing for cooperative relationships with the international space station and NASA.
The uptake has been relatively slow, but it is hoped that there will be many more agreements with other federal agencies, universities, and private sector research organizations. This is the second agreement.
National Institutes of Health USDA