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Asia Minute: Thai Takeout Food Goes to Space

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Food preparation and space travel are two pursuits that have some unexpected links. That’s especially true for a new experiment that Thailand plans to try this summer. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Astronauts are always looking for new kinds of food to eat in space.

They’ve come a long way since “Tang” was a mission highlight, and there’s been progress since soup in a tube, dried ice cream and salt and pepper that comes in liquid form. Thanks to the work of a Korean crew a decade ago, kimchi has been in space.

But Thailand is boldly promising to go where no researcher has gone before: putting a durian in space.

In case you’re not familiar with it, the durian may be the world’s smelliest fruit. It’s very popular in Southeast Asia — but with strict limits. It’s illegal to even carry a durian on the Metro in Singapore, or on the bus in Thailand, or in the passenger cabin of an airplane just about anywhere.

But Thailand’s space research agency wants to send durian into space to see if it could work as a nutritional source for astronauts.

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Step one: a rocket launch this summer — putting a vacuum-packed, baked durian into space for all of five minutes to see whether that changes the fruit’s texture.

A spokesman for Thailand’s “Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency” told the BBC that “our main goal is to eventually bring Thai food up to space to be consumed by astronauts.”

No word on why they didn’t start with something like pad thai or mango rice.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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