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China Serves Space Age Food on Earth

by on September 3, 2012

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Rocket launch from Jiuquan, China 2012

Chinese scientists have developed more than 120 different varieties of food in space. The foods that they have developed over the last 25 years aren’t normal though. These hulk-like creations include 210+ pound pumpkins, an eggplant the size of a basketball, 2 pound tomatoes and 2 foot long cucumbers.

 

“Space Peppers” have become popular in China as a result, especially in Northwest China’s Gansu province. The pepper was developed with a thicker flesh and fewer seeds. They sell at a higher price, thus making them a great way for the producers to make money as they also produce a higher yield than Earth seeds.

The “Space Pepper” seeds were developed during the 2002 Shenzhou III mission that was launched from the small desert town of Jiuquan and have spread to five other provinces and regions, including the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Yunnan and Qing-hai provinces.

Jiuquan, a small town on north China’s deserts, caught worldwide attention in 1970 when China launched its first satellite, and has since developed into a space city with a population of dozens of thousands.

Once the seeds return from space they are harvested and only the seeds that show improvements in size, taste and vitamin and mineral content are selected to be grown.  The Guangdong Academy of Agricultural Science is the main testing facility. After returning to Earth the GAAS has seen some produce 3 times the amount of vitamin C than normal.

“It’s not like that after traveling in space for a few days, the seeds will turn out with all the desired traits we want,” said Liu Min a seed technologist that works as a consultant to the China Academy of Space Technology.

Farmers will spend years tending to the farms so being in space isn’t the only factor in success, it takes hard work and humans on Earth to make a product that can go to market.

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