Houston! We have a pepper! Astronauts eat the view on the International Space Station

Mission specialist Michael Hopkins was ‘addicted’ to the Houston staple when he was on Earth – and never missed a trip

Houston! We have a pepper! According to NASA’s mission commander, Chris Cassidy, who was celebrating the first salad on the International Space Station, there’s something special about peppers on this planet.

“We’ve noticed a freshness in them because they’re growing onboard our lab,” he said in a NASA video published on YouTube.

The two are only the third and fourth astronauts to make the “flavour challenge” on the station. In total, 21 astronauts have tried and eaten the extraterrestrial sustenance.

Astronaut Chris Cassidy left the primary reason – how to pronounce the scherisson de Bourgogne (and how to eat it) – unanswered.

Cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov picked the sprouts for the challenge at the end of 2002 because he liked “the taste”, so reported the Wall Street Journal.

Now on the ISS, NASA is placing some of its mainstay foods, including beans, steak and salmon, aboard the lab instead of suspending them from a wire above the space station and holding them in boiling water.

NASA astronaut Deke Slayton, who served in Apollo 13, popped peanut butter onto lab scallions for astronauts on Earth in 1974.

But it was astronaut Michael Hopkins who best expressed the love humans have for the crunchy, earthlings-meant-to-be food while floating in weightlessness.

“To see something you love, to really be in control of something that is the closest you’re ever going to get to being directly involved with – every time we do a space shuttle mission, we bring back tons of different food so we can recreate in Earth-like conditions the kinds of things we can make at home,” he said.

Mission Specialist Michael Hopkins’ favourite Earth food on the ISS is peppers.

But Hopkins wasn’t good at being alone.

“I’m addicted to peppers on Earth, so I just went to the store and bought some,” he said.

He was concerned that the scherilli, or scallions, could overwhelm him, “because of all the complexity”.

The mission control team in Houston cooked up a batch of parsley, basil and pepper salad, sliced it and placed it on a dish in his space station lab.

The goal was for Hopkins to sample it before he left the station on 17 February and let his new taste buds learn to appreciate the delicacy.

When he landed, he politely thanked the crew and their families for a great four-and-a-half-months, and promised to return for a meal. He was back by 18 March.

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