KNOWN as Asia’s “king of fruits” and the only food to be widely banned in the region’s hotels and aeroplanes, durian will now undertake another world first.
Thailand intends to send durian into orbit to test its durability as pat of a project to produce Thai food that is suitable for consumption in zero-gravity conditions. Liftoff is scheduled for July.
“In the future we want astronauts to be able to eat Thai food,” said a spokesperson for Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA). “We want to see whether there are any physical changes after it returns to earth, for example it might get smaller, or cracked.”
The durian will be vacuum-sealed and rocketed into space for five minutes. Different kinds of Thai rice will also make the daring journey.
“We’d like to send [it] to the atmosphere at the same level that astronauts live and bring them back to analyse their texture for any changes,” a GISTDA spokesperson told the BBC. Other iconic Thai foods like mango sticky rice were also on the cards for future tests, they said.
Advances in technology and the growing number of countries sending their citizens into space have enriched astronauts’ controlled cuisine with new flavours. And with Asia catching up with more established space programs, menus are diversifying.
The pickled dish kimchi boldly went where few fermented vegetables have gone before when a South Korean astronaut brought it with her in 2008.
Additional reporting from AFP.