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Lots of news stories today about yesterday’s lettuce feast on ISS, where a Japanese and two NASA astronauts chowed down on lettuce grown in a NASA-built space greenhouse, ten years after the Russians did it with the American-built and still working LADA greenhouse.
Almost all the stories below, however, fail to note that earlier effort, and instead make the false claim that this NASA experiment is the first to grow lettuce in space.
- ABC: NASA astronauts take their first bites of space-grown lettuce at International Space Station
- Popular Science: Space-Grown Lettuce Tastes “Awesome,” Astronauts Say
- NPR: This Salad Is Outta This World: Astronauts Eat Greens Grown In Space
- CBS: Astronauts chow down on first salad grown in space
- New York Times: Growing Vegetables in Space, NASA Astronauts Tweet Their Lunch
- Sputnik: First time ever: ISS crew eats food grown in outer space
- NBC: One Small Step for Veggies: Astronauts Eat Lettuce Grown in Space
- The Guardian: Nasa astronauts take first bites of lettuce grown in space: ‘Tastes like arugula’
- Washington Post: Astronauts just ate space-grown lettuce for the first time ever
- Motherboard: Astronauts dine on the first 100% space-grown food
- collectSpace: Astronauts snack on space-grown lettuce for first time (officially)
Only the last article, written at an alternative space news website normally focused on the collection of space memorabilia, gets it right, noting that the Russians did it more than a decade ago and have since then been regularly growing lettuce, peas, and radishes on ISS — and eating them. (They also link to the 2003 Air & Space article I wrote on this very subject.)
Meanwhile, take a scan of all the important mainstream news outlets above, none of whom did the slightest bit of research or fact-checking so they could find out that NASA’s experiment now is not the first, and in fact is more than a decade behind an earlier co-operative effort between the Russians and Utah State University.
This should make you wonder if maybe their other news research is as sloppy.