Italy is set to send approximately 3 kilograms of fusilli to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing and evaluation. The goal is to determine the best recipe that suits microgravity conditions and meets the nutritional needs of astronauts.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, the Italian Air Force, Barilla, and Axiom Space. The aim is not only to explore the culinary possibilities in space but also to support the application for Italian cuisine to be recognized as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
“We have been producing pasta for more than 140 years. It is a product rooted in the very distant past and is an icon of Italian cuisine around the world,” commented Paolo Barilla, Vice President of the Barilla Group. “Being part of this space mission fills us with pride and offers us the opportunity to explore a new frontier of nutrition, giving astronauts a bit of the feeling of being at home.”
The special package will be sent on January 17, 2024, aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft as part of the Ax-3 mission, lasting two weeks. It will be the first fully European commercial astronaut mission to the ISS, featuring former NASA astronaut and Axiom Space Director of Business Development Michael López-Alegría, Italian Air Force pilot Walter Villadei, and mission specialists Alper Gezeravcı from Turkey and Marcus Wandt from Sweden.
Due to the challenges of boiling pasta in microgravity, the fusilli sent to space is pre-cooked and ready to be heated and enjoyed. Barilla’s Research and Development team ensured that the simple recipe – pasta, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt – represents the essence of Italian goodness, guaranteeing it can remain al dente even while orbiting the Earth.
Pasta has a long history in space, with several recorded instances of freeze-dried spaghetti being sent on Apollo missions. In fact, during the Apollo 12 mission in November 1969, Lunar Module Pilot Alan Bean specifically requested the NASA food team to pack spaghetti for him, as he was on a special mission of his own.
“I wanted to be the first human to eat spaghetti on the Moon, as it is my favorite food,” Bean explained.
— Randy Bresnik (@AstroKomrade) November 3, 2017
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