If all goes according to plan, in November this year, the International Space Station is about to get a bit spicier.
Researchers are trying to send up Española chili pepper plants (Capsicum annuum), which might make peppers the very first fruit to be grown in space by US astronauts.
“We have also been looking for varieties that do not grow too tall, and yet are very productive within the controlled environments that we’d be using in space,” NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler advised Dylan Bida on the Rio Grande Sun.
“The astronauts have often expressed a need for more spicy and flavourful meals, and so having a little bit of hot flavor additionally seemed to be an excellent thing. Plus, many peppers are high in vitamin C, which is important for space diets.”
Though there are thousands of several types of chili peppers, Española peppers have been chosen partially because they grow at high altitudes, have short rising periods, and will be easily pollinated.
Astronauts and cosmonauts have been efficiently rising plants in space stations since 1982 when the crew of the Soviet Salyut 7 spacecraft first grew the model plant Arabidopsis.
Russian cosmonauts have additionally been eating their space produce since 2003. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that American astronauts received their first taste of space lettuce.
We have now grown loads of entirely different space vegetables on the ISS, together with lettuce, Swiss chard, radishes, Chinese cabbage, and peas.
That is not even mentioning their stay on the Red Planet, and then the trip home. Rising their food is a pretty big priority.