Move over, Tang, there’s a new space snack in orbit. And this one is made from fresh ingredients grown in zero gravity.
For the first time ever, astronauts are able to add a little bit of spice to their meals with home (er, space) grown Hatch chile peppers. The International Space Station announced the feat on Twitter: “Happy pepper picking day aboard the @Space_Station! Today @Astro_Sabot gets the honor of harvesting the station’s first crop of chile peppers as a part of the Plant Habitat-04 study, one of the most challenging station plant experiments to date.”
Why peppers? Well for one, they add some much-needed flavor to crew diets, NASA says. But if you want to get all scientific about it, NASA offers an explanation for that, too, saying that not only are these peppers dense with nutrients, they are easy to handle and grow in microgravity, they contain a low microbial level making them safe for consumption, and they self-pollinate, meaning these things are about to be growing like crazy up there.
Some of those peppers will be sent back to Earth for examination, but of course most of the harvest is for the space crew who grew them. Astronaut Megan McArthur tweeted out her recipe for space tacos using the produce—fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes and artichokes, and fresh Hatch chiles—complete with a photo of everything perfectly placed in a tortilla floating through the ISS.
Lately NASA has been putting a lot of work into the future of feeding astronauts, proving that there’s more to space exploration than just freeze-dried ice cream as more and more crops are able to be grown and harvested. So don’t worry, when we inevitably enter our true The Jetsons-style future, we’ll have some delicious meals to look forward to. Space just keeps getting tastier.