NASA, USDA sign space research pact

July 29, 2008 at 3:42 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have signed an agreement to enable space-based plant research.

The memorandum of understanding was signed last week by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and Secretary of Agriculture Edward Schafer. The agreement is designed to allow the USDA's Agricultural Research Service to conduct plant-related research on the International Space Station.

"The research will improve our understanding of biological cellular mechanisms and may lead to creative new ways to improve American agriculture, protect the environment and contribute to better human health," NASA said.

The agreement is the second of what NASA says it hopes will be many similar agreements with other federal agencies, universities and private sector research organizations. The first NASA partnership agreement for use of the station as a national laboratory was signed last year with the National Institutes of Health.

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