STAT

Will launching plants into orbit yield new medicines?

A team of biologists and chemists is launching plants into space in the hopes that it will revamp our oldest source of remedies for the 21st century.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The test tubes didn’t look much like planet Earth. There were four of them stuck into a white, 3-D printed frame, each one home to a spindly plant sprouting from a dab of lab-made jelly. It was to a garden what Soylent is to confit de canard with fingerling potatoes and mesclun greens.

But once inserted into an aluminum metal box, propelled out of our atmosphere, and plugged into the International Space Station, this arrangement was supposed to mimic everything about our world — except for one important detail.

There would be almost

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