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Chinese astronauts enjoying 120 dishes during space station stay

China's Shenzhou 12 astronauts will select their meals from more than 120 dishes during their three-month stay in orbit.

Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo arrived at the Tianhe space station module on June 17 and have now accessed supplies aboard the docked Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft that launched on May 29.

Among the 6.8 tons of supplies delivered by Tianzhou 2 are a range of staple foods and beverages including a variety of teas, juices and soups. The spacecraft also transported coolers to store fresh fruits and vegetables.

Space Food Evolution: How astronaut chow has changed in photos

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A still image of a Chinese astronaut eating in space.

(Image credit: CCTV)

Chinese astronauts on the country's Tiangong space station module Tianhe will have 120 dishes to choose from at mealtimes. Here, an undated photo of an astronaut drinking from a pouch in orbit. 

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A still image of a Chinese astronaut eating in space.

(Image credit: CCTV)

China's space food has evolved over the years to include over 100 dishes for astronauts on long missions to enjoy.

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A still image of a Chinese astronaut eating in space.

(Image credit: CCTV)

Here, astronaut Wang Yaping shows off different food packets on the Tiangong 1 space lab module. 

The foods are usually solid, boneless, in small pieces and selected to meet the astronauts' personal tastes, Huang Weifen, China's chief astronaut trainer, told government-owned television station CCTV. Meals include shredded pork in garlic sauce, kung pao chicken, black pepper beef, pickled cabbage and shredded pork and many more.

Related: Space food photos: What astronauts eat in orbit

"We have also equipped the space station with a kitchen and microwave oven, so the astronauts have more methods to heat food than before," Huang said. "They can have hot food whenever they need."

CCTV also reports that astronauts use condiments such as pork sauce and Sichuan pepper sauce to help adjust to the temporary loss of sense of taste experienced in microgravity.

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Andrew Jones covers China's space industry for SpaceNews. He is based in Helsinki, Finland.

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