For the first time ever, green and red chiles grown in outer space were harvested and eaten.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s statement before embarking on the first-ever human walk on the moon has become an iconic quote – “‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Now, Mexican food has taken its own giant leap forward, skyrocketing to new heights with the very 21st century distinction of being the star of a party at the International Space Station.
For the first time ever, green and red chiles grown in outer space were harvested, then eaten within tacos by astronauts as part of a scientific taste test and experiment.
NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei harvested the chiles last Friday, which took four months to grow aboard the International Space Station.
“Friday Feasting! After the harvest, we got to taste red and green chile,” wrote astronaut Megan McArthur on Twitter, alongside photos of the space-age culinary delight floating in zero gravity.
“Then we filled out surveys (got to have the data! 😁). Finally, I made my best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE!”
Friday Feasting! After the harvest, we got to taste red and green chile. Then we filled out surveys (got to have the data! 😁). Finally, I made my best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE! https://t.co/pzvS5A6z5u pic.twitter.com/fJ8yLZuhZS
— Megan McArthur (@Astro_Megan) October 29, 2021
The plant growing project is critical both for deepening understanding of horticulture in outer space, as well as protecting astronauts’ physical and mental health.
With most foods on space missions being freeze-dried and bland, and the view outside the window sometimes bleak, looking after a living, green plant and enjoying the fruits of their labors can boost astronauts’ emotional wellbeing, as well as provide them with additional vitamins and nutrients.
“Growing colorful vegetables in space can have long-term benefits for physical and psychological health,” said Matt Romeyn, a principal investigator for the experiment, in a statement.
“We are discovering that growing plants and vegetables with colors and smells helps to improve astronauts’ well-being.”
LaShelle Spencer, a plant scientist and leader in the experiment said that the experiment could influence nutritional plans for astronauts on future years-long missions to other planets.
“The food astronauts eat needs to be as good as the rest of their equipment,” she said in a statement.
“To successfully send people to Mars and bring them back to Earth, we will not only require the most nutritious foods, but the best tasting ones as well.”