Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship transports seeds for breeding experiments

This screen image captured at Beijing Aerospace Control Center shows the Shenzhou-16 crewed spaceship successfully docking with the radial port of the China Space Station's core module, May 30, 2023. (Photo: Xinhua)

Nine varieties of seeds, selected from north China's Shanxi Province, have been sent into space onboard the country's Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship, Science and Technology Daily reported on Thursday.

The seeds will be used for space experiments on the China Space Station (CSS), including a type of corn seed, developed by the Shanxi Agricultural University, that has a planting area of about 266,667 hectares in the province, with high yields and wide adaptability, according to the report.

The seeds for space experiments need further improvement, especially in disease resistance, through conventional breeding methods or space breeding.

Space breeding involves exposing seeds and strains to cosmic radiation and microgravity during a spaceflight mission to mutate their genes.

Since conducting its first space breeding experiment in 1987, China has sent the seeds of hundreds of plant species into space on dozens of retrievable satellites and Shenzhou spaceships.

The Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship was launched and docked with the CSS combination on Tuesday.