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Fri, Feb 15, 2008

To Boldly Go Where Few Side Dishes Have Gone Before

Kimchi On Menu For Upcoming ISS Flight

Ko San is a 30-year-old computer science engineer, who's expected to become the first South Korean in space. He's scheduled to ride a Russian rocket to the International Space Station in April. It turns out his trip will also mark a second historic event -- he'll be bringing the first Korean food into space.

CNN quotes the Yonhap news agency in reporting that fresh and cooked kimchi has been approved by Russian space officials for the ISS menu. The popular Korean side dish -- made from a variety of pickled vegetables -- will be accompanied by spicy chili paste, rice, bean paste soup, instant noodles, sweet cinnamon punch, ginseng teas and a mixed grain and vegetable bar.

The Korea Aerospace Research Institute and Korea Food Research Institute reportedly spent two years researching preparation of the foods for space, to eliminate the presence of lactic acid bacteria -- which scientists feared could become virulent in space.

"The lactic acid bacterium in kimchi is a useful microbe normally, but it could threaten astronauts' health in space so that kimchi must be provided in a germ-free state," said one KARI scientist to Agence-France Presse.

This will be the first time the space station's menu has strayed beyond American and Russian cuisine... but it may not be the last time kimchi shows up on an orbital menu, as the low-bacteria fermented dish reportedly has "excellent" preservation characteristics.

Yum... but we advise the ISS crew to be careful in indulging. After all, those station windows don't open...



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