The astronauts have been successfully growing a variety of plants in space, for years now. This stared when the crew of Soviet Salyut 7 spacecraft grew the first model plant in space, Arabidopsis, a member of the mustard family in 1982. It was since then, Russian astronauts have been consuming their own space products, mainly consisting of other cultivated species such as cabbage and radish.
According to the Rio Grande Sun reports, NASA has selected none other than the Española chile pepper to be its next space crop project. While such peppers are often lumped in with vegetables, they’re actually fruits, and this means the chile pepper will be the first fruit ever grown by NASA in space.
Researchers at NASA are hoping to send Española chili pepper plants (Capsicum annuum), making it the first fruit be reaped in space. Although there are several species of the spicy pepper fruit, the US scientists are going with Española peppers because they can grow in high altitudes and can be easily pollinated.
“We were also looking for varieties that don’t grow too tall, and yet are very productive in the controlled environments that we would be using in space,” NASA Plan Physiologist Ray Wheeler told the paper. “
"The astronauts have often expressed a desire for more-spicy and flavourful foods, and so having a bit of hot flavour also seemed to be a good thing. Plus, many peppers are very high in vitamin C, which is important for space diets,” NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler told The Rio Grande Sun.