China's seed-breeding satellite, Shijian-8, successfully landed in
Sichuan Province at 10:43 am Beijing time yesterday after a 15-day flight
The recoverable satellite was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite
Launch Centre in Northwest China on September 9. The satellite's return
capsule was recovered in Suining, Sichuan Province. The orbital module
will continue to orbit the earth and carry out more experiments until its
battery runs out.
The satellite carried 215 kilograms of seeds of vegetables, fruits,
grains and cotton, the largest load of this kind since 1987.
Scientists from the Space-breeding Centre of the Chinese Academy of
Agricultural Science used the mission to carry out experiments aimed at
discovering what happens to the germination and sprouting of plants when
they are exposed to zero
After being exposed to cosmic radiation and zero gravity, some seeds
may mutate and produce higher yields and improved quality when planted
back on earth, scientists said.
During its flight, the satellite sent back high-definition digital
images of sprouting vegetables, according to the Institute of Plant
Physiology & Ecology with the Shanghai Institute for Biological
Sciences under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
An official from the Ministry of Agriculture said the ministry will ask
research institutes to use the seeds returned from space to develop new
strands featuring high yields, good quality and high efficiency.
Since 1987, China has carried out seed breeding tests on nine
The Shijian-8 is the 90th space flight made by Long March rockets and
the 23rd time China has launched a recoverable satellite. China has
chalked up 48 successful space launches in a row since October 1996.