Space Chocolate: Astronaut Getting Sweet Care Package From Home

Image: Space Chocolate: Astronaut Getting Sweet Care Package From Home

Tuesday, 17 Sep 2013 03:36 PM

By David Ogul

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Chocolate is being sent into space for NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, who is anxiously awaiting a care package from her husband, the shipment of which is made possible by a new cargo ship.

Nyberg is the only American aboard the International Space Station.

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“It would be really nice to have some fresh, home-baked goods, but the fresh part doesn’t work very well when it takes a couple days to get here,” Nyberg told The Associated Press. “So anything chocolate usually does it for me.”

Nyberg’s husband, who also is a NASA astronaut, put together the care package that is aboard the Cygnus.

“You know that there’s something packed away in that vehicle, something special for you,” she told the AP. “We’re human beings and we get very excited about the packages from home and some of the treats that we might get.”

Cygnus cargo ships are being sent to the space station via a $1.9 billion contract with NASA. Wednesday’s liftoff by private contractor Orbital Sciences Corp. is a test flight that will carry 1,300 pounds of food, clothes, and other items.

Another cargo ship will come equipped with a small plant-growing system that will use LED lights to grow romaine lettuce. But the lettuce won’t be available to the astronauts.

“They’ll grow the lettuce, freeze it, and send it back to Earth,” Gioia Massa, a project scientist for the Kennedy Space Center, told ABC News. “We need to look at what types of microorganisms are on the leaves so we can determine if they’re safe to eat.”

Massa said not every plant would be able to grow in orbit because of space and power constraints.

“We couldn’t grow any root crops, like carrots,” she told ABC. But radishes, bok choy, and zinnias have potential.

On top of that, the International Space Station astronauts will grow flowers.

“Gardening offers the astronauts some psychological benefits,” Massa said. “We want the plants to be something that the crew can interact with.”

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Related stories:

Three Space Station Crewmembers Home After 166 Days

Astronauts Reach Space Station in Just Six Hours

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