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Astronaut makes zero-g tacos with 1st chile peppers grown in space. They look delicious.

NASA astronaut Meghan McArthur made some tasty looking talks
(Image credit: NASA)

Some of humanity's first space-grown chile peppers have been consumed in orbit, taco-style.

NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, one of the seven crewmembers currently living and working at the International Space Station (ISS), created what she called "my best space tacos yet," using some of the newly harvested peppers, some fajita beef and rehydrated tomatoes (as fresh food can only last so long in space.)

The astronauts also got to eat some of the red and green peppers and perform a survey on their taste for future science work, McArthur said in the Oct. 29 Twitter post (opens in new tab). The 48 Hatch peppers are part of a new push by NASA to test out more food ahead of long-term missions to the moon and Mars.

Related: Space Food Evolution: How Astronaut Chow Has Changed (Photos)

Happily, the harvest is somewhat self-continuing as a few of the peppers produced flowers used to germinate another crop, NASA said in an Oct. 5 update (opens in new tab) of the project. The space station crew hand-pollinated some of the flowers to assist the future harvest, which may take place this month.

"Studies of fruit development in microgravity are limited, and NASA researchers have noted lower fruit development versus ground observations in this experiment for reasons that are not fully understood at this point," the agency said (opens in new tab).

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The "pepper-picking day" for the first harvest took place on Oct. 29 (opens in new tab), according to the International Space Station Research Twitter feed, presumably a few hours before the taco feast. The crop came from the Planet Habitat-04 study, which is an ongoing series of trying to grow different plants in orbit.

Previous harvests included space-grown Mizuna mustard, radishes, zinnias red lettuce and two other lettuce types. The latest crop of Hatch chile peppers arrived at the ISS June 5 with the SpaceX Dragon CRS-22 commercial resupply mission. NASA announced the peppers were growing in a July 13 statement (opens in new tab).

It was serendipity that the SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts, including McArthur, were still on board when the chile peppers were ready for harvest. Initially they were supposed to return home in late October, before the crops were ready. They're still in space awaiting the weather to improve for the launch of their relief mission, Crew-3. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.