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Space tacos! International Space Station astronauts harvest their second crop of hot peppers

The International Space Station (ISS) has grown different plants over time. But the challenge is more complex in the case of hot peppers.

The astronauts picked their second crop of chili – now it’s time to enjoy the space taco! It was the 48 seeds planted by astronaut Shane Kimbrae in July that finally bore fruit.

NASA Announce the final result For an experiment that, as he put it, poses an even greater challenge to the crew of the International Space Station.

why? Because the cultivation of other elements requires a month or two, but hot pepper, as a flower-shaped crop, needs 137 days, that is, just over four months.

This is how I did the experiment with chili

Sowing is being done in the so-called Advanced Plant Habitat (APH, its English acronym) for the International Space Station, Matt Romain, principal investigator for NASA’s Plant Habitat 04, explains. “This experiment has greatly enhanced the latest technology in space crop production,” he said.

“We took a sample from a field of Hatch chili in New Mexico, adapted it to suit the station’s habitat, and figured out how to grow it fruitfully in space. All in a span of two years,” highlights Romain.

After planting in July, the team monitored the soil and conditions in the habitat. The plants flowered after a few weeks, and pollination was carried out by fans and hand.

The first harvest took place on October 29, the second at the end of November.

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With a first crop of chili, tacos topped with fajita meat, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichokes, are the perfect meal to wrap up Spanish Heritage Month.

How did astronauts feel eating chili tacos in space? Romain explains.

“The level of excitement surrounding the first ancient and alien signals was unprecedented for us,” said researcher PH04. “Everything indicated that some fruits were hotter than others, which is unexpected, given the unknown effect that microgravity can have on capsaicin levels in peppers.”

Space cultivation rooms

The International Space Station has two planting chambers: the APH, where the chili pepper seeds were placed. And vegetables, which is called the vegetable production system, from which various types of lettuce, Chinese cabbage, turnip and zinnia flowers appeared.

“Vegetables and APH are great regimens, and we pushed our APH to the limit with these chili peppers,” Romain said. “We plan to take the lessons learned and continue to test and develop a much larger range of plants for eventual integration into the crew’s diet.”

“Our goal is to enable the production of viable and sustainable crops for future missions as people explore the Moon and Mars.”