Money Matters - Simplified

Astronauts plan to grow cucumbers on ISS

Crew members of the Russian Soyuz spaceship (in pic) due to be launched to the ISS on the night of June 8 hope to grow cucumbers in space.

Another space shuttle will blast off from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan towards the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday.

Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and NASA astronaut Michael Fossum will be aboard the shuttle.

Mission vegetable cultivation
The mission of the astronauts in the upcoming sojourn to the ISS is a deviation from the past.

Unlike the normal spacewalks that repair or add on to the space station, this time around the visitors intend to harvest cucumbers on the ISS.

Talking of the experiments that he would conduct during the half-year stint aboard the ISS, Satoshi Furukawa said he would grow cucumbers.

Japan has been at the forefront in raising gastronomic standards in space. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, made sushi while on the space station last year.

“We wish we were able to eat the cucumbers, but we have not been allowed,” Furukawa said.

The exercise is a part of continuing studies to find a mechanism whereby space explorers are able to harvest their own food in space.

The Vegetable Production Unit (VPU) experiments are already being carried out in Lada, the SDL-designed plant growth chamber that resides on the ISS.

In lighter vein, Volkov said that the Russian segment will plant tomatoes on the ISS. He further gagged that he hoped to get a permission to prepare a salad in space.

“To be honest, what I would really like is fried potatoes,” he said.

Japan has been at the forefront in raising gastronomic standards in space. Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, made sushi while on the space station last year.

Ironically, the E. coli outbreak in Europe was originally blamed on cucumbers. And now steps are being taken to grow the vegetable outside the earth as well.

Meanwhile, Furukawa, Fossum and Volkov were mindful of their health and to thwart off any kind of infection, they sat behind a protective glass while talking of their forthcoming mission.

US space shuttles retiring
The U.S. shuttle Endeavour has already made its last journey to the ISS, and Atlantis is scheduled to make its final trip in July.

Thereafter, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft will be the only means of commuting to the ISS.

Fossum said of the U.S space shuttles, “We are going to miss the shuttle’s capabilities, because ... they are awesome and unmatched.”