Canadian Space Agency

Canadian Space Agency

November 13, 2009 06:00 ET

Canadian Science Set to Launch on Space Shuttle: First Experiment to Study How Trees Make Wood in Space

LONGUEUIL, QUEBEC--(Marketwire - Nov. 13, 2009) - The first Canadian botanical experiment destined for the International Space Station (ISS) will launch on the Space Shuttle Atlantis on Monday, November 16, 2009, at 2:28 p.m. Eastern from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Known as APEX-Cambium (Advanced Plant EXperiments on Orbit), the study will help determine the role gravity plays in the formation of different kinds of wood and improve knowledge of fundamental biological processes in trees, which is expected to benefit the lumber and pulp and paper industries in achieving more uniform and higher quality products.

Led by Professor Rodney Savidge of the University of New Brunswick and funded by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the APEX-Cambium experiment on the ISS will be conducted by CSA Astronaut Robert Thirsk. The Space Shuttle will deliver 24 willow saplings to the Space Station, where Dr. Thirsk will be responsible for initiating the experiment. Using a special tool developed for the project, he will make loops in the stems of twelve trees, leaving another six to grow naturally for comparison. After thirty days, the samples will be harvested and preserved for their journey back to Earth, where Professor Savidge will analyze the results. The space samples will also be compared with samples grown on Earth.

APEX-Cambium is a joint CSA/NASA endeavour with NASA providing the Advanced Biological Research System incubator in which the willow plants are to be grown.

For more information on the project visit the CSA website at

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