Thanks to ongoing experiments in orbit over the past several decades, humanity has made all kinds of advancements. And that’s something that continues on to this day on the International Space Station. Case in point, NASA’s Plant Habitat-04 (PH-04) experiment, which began earlier this year. The experiment cultivated chile peppers aboard the ISS for the first time. In fact, astronaut Megan McArthur recently tweeted out a photo of the end result of this endeavor, and yes, this meant tacos were on the menu.
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
McArthur posted this on Friday, October 29. So it meant they missed out on making this a “Taco Tuesday.” Ah well, science waits for no one. So how long did this entire process actually take? The idea here was for the peppers to grow over four months, after which the astronauts harvested them. They would send some back to Earth to study, but others the astronauts got to eat. Seems only fair. The honor of harvesting these went to flight engineer Mark T. Vande Hei.
Once McArthur posted her outer space culinary skills to Twitter, people sure got cheeky in the comments. This response in particular got a chuckle out of us, we admit. (We are perpetually twelve-year-olds here).
Looks great but I hear the indigestion in space is nothing to mess with… pic.twitter.com/PlQwFNy7Fy
— Just call me Joe (@McSpazzing) November 1, 2021
This particular plant experiment was one of the most complicated ever to perform on the ISS. Simply because of the long germination times. A large part of this study is to give the folks at NASA an idea about long harvesting times in outer space, preparing for a future where it’ll be par for the course on potential human habitats on the Moon. And later, on Mars.
Crews will always rely on packaged foods to a large extent, but eventually, growing food off-Earth is going to be a necessity. Yes, all of this brings to mind the movie The Martian. But one day soon, what was sci-fi will be a reality.