Silent Running on the International Space Station


Zinnia in Space

There are flowers blooming in orbit and they echo back to a cinematic precursor filmed 44 years ago.

I was looking at Scott Kelly's Flickr page today and was immediately struck by several photos that were hauntingly familiar. More flower pictures. I am a biologist and spent a lot of time studying (and teaching about) plants in college and grad school so I like to look at things like this.

In particular the close-up, high resolution pictures of his zinnias really caught my attention. Then I realized why this looked so familiar. "Silent Running" - a cult classic film released in 1972. I first saw the when I was at the impressionable age of 16 and it has been stuck in my head ever since. Decades later it inspired me to build a spacecraft-inspired green house on a remote arctic island. Several years ago I had a chance to show a picture of our little arctic greenhouse to the film's director Douglas Trumbull. He responded with a twinkle in his eye and a smile.

Look at these two pictures - and then watch the opening of the film. Scott Kelly was most certainly channeling his inner Freeman Lowell.

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