The Azuki bean will be grown IN COMPLETE DARKNESS and WEIGHTLESSNESS from seed for 7 days onboard “Kibo" inside the International Space Station.

Astronauts will film the sprouting of Azuki beans grown in space and transmit the images to Earth.

  • Azuki beans, Vigna angularis cv. Erimowase, are implanted into a rockwool block under dry conditions and sent to ISS.
  • Once in orbit, the rockwool is wetted with water so that the beans will start germinate. The seeds are put inside an opaque bag and kept inside the Kibo module.
  • Seven days (TBD) later, the bag is opened and the growth and the shape of seedlings are observed. Video images are taken and downlinked.
  • Downlinked video images are distributed to participating students.
  • If extra crew operations are possible, astronauts can pick some sprouts out and touch them to examine its stiffness and other physical properties, i.e. gravity resistance.

Observation Detail – and Results

PrepPreparation of seed for the space trip

Launch to the ISS (4 Aug 2013)

The fourth H-II Transfer Vehicle, or HTV4, also known as KOUNOTORI4, was successfully launched aboard an H-IIB launch vehicle from JAXA’s Tanegashima Space Center at 4:48 am on August 4, 2013. KOUNOTORI4, which delivers supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), docked with the ISS on August 10. (All times are Japan Standard Time, UTC +9 hrs.)

Day 0

Watering (31 Aug 2013)

  1. Take out SSAF plant cassette.
  2. Connect water syringes to watering ports and slowly inject to wet rock wool.
  3. Put the seeds into a lightproof bag and keep it at room temperature.
Day 1(Stored in darkness)
Day 2(Stored in darkness)
Day 3(Stored in darkness)
Day 4

Growth Check (4 Sep 2013)

  1. Retrieve the plant cassette from the large lightproof bag.
  2. Observe the growth of Azuki beans. (Record by video camera.)
  3. Insert the plant cassette bacl into the large lightproof bag.
Day 5(Stored in darkness)
Day 6(Stored in darkness)
Day 7

Final Observations (6 or 7 Sep 2013 – TBC)


  1. Pick one sprout from the plant cassette.
  2. Hold both ends of the sprout by both hands, and hook it to the spring balance.
  3. Slowly pull the both ends of the sprout until it breaks.


  1. Hold the bottom end of sprout (bean), and swing the sprout several times.
  2. Hold the top end of sprout, and swing the sprout several times.


  1. Hold the bottom end of sprout (bean), and swing the sprout several times.
  2. Breaks? Or forms a Kink?

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