Newton’s Space Sapling lands at Brogdale, the home of the National Fruit Collection


January 2019

Newton’s Space Sapling lands at Brogdale, the home of the National Fruit Collection

We are proud to be one of the recipients of one of eight young trees from the pips of Isaac Newton ’s apple tree that were blasted into space with British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake.

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.

Brogdale was selected to share the story of space travel, Isaac Newton, horticulture and the wonders of science as part of our ongoing commitment to education, as well as our previous involvement in the Apollo 10 mission with Buzz Aldrin in 1969.

Debi Adams, newly appointed Education officer said:

“I am so excited to be joining Brogdale at this time and looking forward to including our new Space Garden as part of the school visits program.”

Debi received the tree from Tim Peake at a special ceremony at Woolsthorpe Manor, National Trust attended by Tim Biddlecombe, Chairman of FAST who will care for our tree, Sara Smile, Operations Manager from Brogdale Collections and Andrea Leadsom, Business Secretary and senior representatives from the project.

Speaking at the event, 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 and continues to inspire to this day.

“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.”

Ian Cooper, General Manager for the National Trust, said:

“Isaac Newton’s time back home at Woolsthorpe in his Year of Wonders in 1665/66 transformed scientific thinking, the impact of which is still felt today. As the trees grow and mature at their new homes, the partnerships we’ve formed in this project will enable us to share Newton’s fascinating story with new people, hopefully inspiring curiosity and a passion for scientific endeavour.”

Dr Anne Visscher, Career Development Fellow, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said:

“We are delighted to have been part of such an exciting project. Apple seeds can lose viability if not stored properly, so we made sure they were kept at low humidity during their time in space.

“After their return to Earth, we germinated them in our seed bank laboratories before handing them over to the nursery team, who have gone out of their way to keep the young trees healthy. We are hopeful that they will continue to mature in their new homes around the country whilst engaging visitors with their history of Newton, space travel and plant science.”

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The National Fruit Collection is one of the largest fruit collections in the world and is located at Brogdale Farm, near Faversham, Kent.

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