Chocolate gets sent to space station; next, a veggie-growing system

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg says when a new cargo ship arrives this weekend at the International Space Station, she’ll be unwrapping the chocolate.

Like soldiers and college students everywhere, Nyberg gets excited about care packages from home. She told Associated Press that something freshly baked would be better, but she’ll settle for chocolate. Her husband, astronaut Douglas Hurley, arranged to have the package stowed aboard the Cygnus.

It’s the debut of the space station delivery service by Virginia’s Orbital Sciences Corp. The unmanned rocket containing Cygnus is set to launch Wednesday morning from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. It will carry mostly food and nonessentials and should arrive at the station Sunday.


Lucky for Nyberg, the experimental plant growth apparatus known as Veggie won’t be among items in this delivery. Because there’s little worse than having your taste buds set for chocolate and being handed a salad.

NASA, however, says fresh produce is very popular on the space station.

“When the resupply ships get up there,” scientist Gioia Massa said in a NASA release, “the fresh produce gets eaten almost immediately.”

The lettuce-growing Vegetable Production System eventually could allow astronauts to grow and dine on their own produce. But the plant-growing system will have to be tested first. Veggie is set to be taken to the ISS in early December.

The space station crew will grow the lettuce, then freeze it and return it to Earth for testing, Massa told ABC News, so that scientists can make sure it’s safe to eat.

Once it is, they can have their homegrown lettuce and their chocolate too.


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