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Astronauts Successfully Grow Green Chilies in Space

Credit: Unsplash

The chilies were used to make tacos.

Space farming and plant raising is one of the most important aspects of modern space research. After all, we can’t very well be living in capsules or colonizing other planets if we can’t maintain our own renewable supply of food. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most difficult aspects, as plants simply aren’t built to grow in zero-gravity settings. However, with a little ingenuity, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station have found ways to circumvent the limitations of nature, leading to the ultimate payout: tacos.

Over the weekend, NASA announced that the denizens of the ISS had managed to successfully grow healthy, edible peppers, utilizing Plant Habitat-04 experimental device. The peppers grown were hatch chilies, a type of green chili native to the Hatch Valley in New Mexico. While this isn’t the first successful harvest aboard the ISS, it is a monumental milestone, as growing peppers is an especially difficult and involved process down here on Earth, to say nothing of in the infinite void.

“The challenge is the ability to feed crews in low-Earth orbit, and then to sustain explorers during future missions beyond low-Earth orbit to destinations including the Moon, as part of the Artemis program, and eventually to Mars,” said Matt Romeyn, principal investigator for NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 experiment. “We are limited to crops that don’t need storage, or extensive processing.”

After confirming the good health of the chilies, they were put to use in the creation of tasty tacos for the crew, assembled in soft shells alongside fajita beef and rehydrated tomatoes and artichokes. According to astronaut Megan McArthur, they were her best space tacos yet.