Tacos made with space-grown chile peppers have been eaten in orbit.
As one of the seven crew members currently on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronaut Megan McArthur made her "best space tacos yet" by using freshly picked peppers, fajita beef, and rehydrated tomatoes.
McArthur said in a post on Oct. 29 that astronauts got to eat red and green peppers and take a taste test for future scientific work. NASA is testing out food ahead of long-term missions to Mars and the moon with 48 Hatch peppers.
The pepper harvest is kind of self-sustaining since some of the peppers produced flowers that germinated another crop, NASA said in an Oct. 5 update. Some of the flowers were hand-pollinated for harvest, which might be this month.
"Studies of fruit development in microgravity are limited, and NASA researchers have noted lower fruit development versus ground observations in this experiment for reasons that are not fully understood at this point," the agency said.
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
Pepper-picking day for the first harvest was Oct. 29, according to the International Space Station Research Twitter feed. This crop comes from a study called Planet Habitat-04, which tries to grow different plants in space.
Past harvests have included mizuna mustard, radishes, zinnias red lettuce, and two other lettuce types. The latest batch of Hatch chile peppers made their way to the ISS on June 5 with the SpaceX Dragon CRS-22 commercial resupply mission. In a statement on July 13, NASA said the peppers were growing.
SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts, including McArthur, happened to be on board when the chile peppers were ripe for harvest. Originally, they were supposed to return in late October, before the crops were ready. They're still in space waiting for the weather to clear so they can launch Crew-3.
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. https://t.co/f1LHkidhFn pic.twitter.com/dim8uHNZbs— ISS Research (@ISS_Research) October 29, 2021