The final frontier just got a little bit spicier as the crew of the International Space Station harvested its first crop of chile peppers on Oct. 29.
“Friday Feasting!” tweeted astronaut Megan McArthur. “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!”
Using its plant habitat system, NASA grew the chile peppers over the course of roughly four months. While some were eaten atop tasty tacos, the rest will be sent back to Earth to be studied, according to the NASA news site.
“The study will add to NASA’s knowledge of growing food crops for long-duration space missions,” the site reads. “Since 2015, astronauts have grown and eaten 10 different crops on the space station as they research ways to address these challenges and supplement their diets with fresh food.”
Researchers spent two years selecting the perfect pepper, landing on the Hatch chile from Hatch, New Mexico, though they can’t truly be called Hatch chile peppers because they weren’t grown there.
According the agency, experiments like this will help prepare for future space travel to the moon and Mars.
“Feeding crews on the Moon, and especially Mars, will be a logistical challenge,” the site adds. “While crews will still rely on packaged foods from Earth, part of the challenge is that sending supplies beyond low-Earth orbit requires more propellant and longer delivery times, particularly to Mars.”
The future of intergalactic Taco Tuesdays rests in NASA’s hands.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digital Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.