Media Advisory: Planting potatoes from the International Space Station

A hand holding mini potatoes.

Tiny potatoes. These mini spuds will be placed in tubes and grown in orbit. Photo: Douglas Levere

By Grove Potter

Release Date: March 23, 2017 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. — How will potatoes germinated in space fare when planted on Earth?

Three students from Buffalo Public Schools (BPS) are carrying out an experiment to find out — with the help of two University at Buffalo professors and the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program.

When: The media is invited to attend the first planting at 4 p.m. today, Thursday, March 23.

Where: Dorsheimer greenhouse on UB’s North Campus. The greenhouse is connected to Cooke Hall. Map:

Who: The students — Gabriella Melendez, Toriana Cornwell and Shaniylah Welch — attended Hamlin Park Claude and Ouida Clapp Academy #74 in Buffalo, and are advised by BPS teacher Andrew Franz. The have been assisted by UB biology professors James O. Berry and Mary Bisson.

Background: The project — originated by Melendez, Cornwell and Welch — aims to examine how potato plants germinated in space will grow on Earth. It takes a big step today, when the plants return to the UB from their nearly six weeks at the International Space Station.

About the Student Space Flights Experiment Program: SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with Nanoracks, LLC. This on-orbit educational research opportunity is enabled through NanoRacks, LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.

In 2015, the WNY STEM Hub formed the Buffalo-Niagara Coalition of 10 schools from Buffalo and Niagara Falls to participate in the Students Spaceflight Experiments Program. With approval from the NCESSE, and with more than $25,000 in support from 18 Western New York sponsors, students worked in teams to develop experiments that could be performed in microgravity. Three projects were submitted to the NCESSE and this project, Spud Launchers, was selected.  

Media Contact Information

Media Relations (University Communications)
330 Crofts Hall (North Campus)
Buffalo, NY 14260-7015
Tel: 716-645-6969