Space is about to get spicy. The American space agency, NASA, is planning to blast New Mexico chile pepper plants out of the Earth’s atmosphere in March 2020 and grow the fruiting blooms on the International Space Station. Researchers hope it will lead to improved meals for astronauts, as well as a deeper understanding of how to someday grow food on the moon and Mars.
The “Improved Española” breed of New Mexico chile plants will be the first fruit Americans grow aboard the space station. NASA astronauts in 2015 ate lettuce grown in space for the first time, and a zinnia bloomed on the space station in 2016. But Russians were the first to grow produce on the ISS, beginning with peas in 2003, before Americans began extraterrestrial gardening activities.