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Taco party in space! Astronauts grow chile and make tacos

By Viridiana Marín

Travel to space has never been so spicy

As a Mexican, there are two things that can’t miss when it is time to eat: tortilla and chile. Those two ingredients are the base of Mexican food and everybody knows, even astronauts. Taco party! is always a great idea especially when you’re thousands of miles away from Earth. 

Astronauts on the International Space Station grew red and green chile peppers successfully, it took about four months before they harvested them for the final time. NASA already has previous experience growing crops in space, but this is the first time the astronauts cultivate a crop of chile peppers on the station from seeds to maturity. 

Why chiles?

Matt Romeyn, the principal investigator of  Plant Habitat-04, one of the most complex plant experiments on the orbiting laboratory says: “Because in order to send humans to Mars, we need to spice things up”, and he could not be more right!

According to Enrique Vela, Mexican Archeology, “chili peppers were beneficial for nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers, they have properties that help to retard the decomposition of food”. Also, some Mexican codices make reference to the importance of this product, including the ‘Mendocino’ and ‘Florentino’, which illustrate how children were punished by making them inhale the smoke from the chili peppers thrown on the fires.

Image of Citaclio

As you can see, Chile has a lot of benefits for humans and is probably our best weapon in case Star Wars becomes real one day.

The chiles that grew in space are called Hatch chile, is a type of pepper found in New Mexico’s Hatch Valley, and is full of key nutrients like Vitamin C and Vitamin K, which space travelers will need during long-duration deep space missions in the future.

Image of NASA

Last Friday the crew finally had a chance to taste-test the chiles and organized a taco party to celebrate their triumph. Astronaut Megan McArthur made her “best space tacos yet: fajita beef, rehydrated tomatoes & artichokes, and HATCH CHILE!” as she shared on Twitter.

If the astronauts can grow chiles in space, what are you waiting to grow yours in the UK? 

From now, Mexicans will be able to travel to space without missing their ‘salsas’.

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