Axiom Mission 1: A Paella in Outer Space

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Michael López-Alegria, second from left, with his fellow missionaries, in zero gravity flight on an Axiom space plane.
Michael López-Alegria, second from left, with his fellow missionaries, in zero gravity flight on an Axiom space plane.axiom space

The first private mission to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled for April 8 after two postponements, is organized by axiom space, an American company dedicated to exploring the commercial uses of space. This is the first exploration before three more modules are installed. One of them includes a view with large windows, a clear indication to future tourists of what may be the first out-of-earth hotel. The pilot of this flight is Michael López-Alegria, who was born in Madrid but was American and vice president of Axiom. He has been a NASA astronaut and has performed no less than ten spacewalks with a total run time of 68 hours: about three days floating in the outer vacuum! But Spanish participation in flight includes other aspects, such as gastronomy. Axiom, aware that its future customers expect some degree of comfort (its module’s cabins are designed by Philippe Starck), said José Andrés, the renowned Asturian chef based in Washington, and brothers Ferran and Albert Adri. changed for.

The menu includes such Hispanic dishes as the ratatouille (tomatoes, onions, aubergine and peppers) with the mystery of Iberian pork. But, above all, Jose Andrés proposes that astronauts enjoy our star dish: paella. The flight will consist of individual portions of rice with chicken and mushrooms, which are cooked under high pressure, heat stabilized, sealed in plastic bags and sterilized. The entire process was carried out under the supervision of a Hawaiian chef from a team of Spanish chefs.

He preferred to send a life-sized paella pan into space so that the astronauts could enjoy the ritual of eating rice directly from the spoon, but had to reject the idea because the grain could float and get into the station’s nooks and crannies. ,

However, just heating it up would be a challenge. There is no microwave oven on the ISS as it consumes excessive energy and would interfere with other equipment as well. Heater only. But there’s no convection in microgravity and you have to be careful: if food is left on a hot surface too long, it can burn the bottom while the top stays cold. It would be a pity if the first space paella was overcooked.

experiments

Lopez Alegria’s three travel companions are another American, a Canadian and an Israeli. They all fly on behalf of some foundation to which they are directors or main contributors. In any case, neither suffers from liquidity problems. Each seat goes for upwards of $50 million. Yes, it takes a great program of experiments to take advantage of (and, in part, justify) the journey.

Larry Connor, who will also serve as co-pilot, will carry out a series of experiments related to cell aging in microgravity; Mark Pethe, Canadian, will serve as a “lab rat”—in his words—for studies on the mechanisms of pain and is commissioned by half a dozen universities and companies working on the use of holograms as a means of communication. there are people whom these essays remind them of that scene star wars In which Princess Leia hands over her distress message to R2-D2.

The other crew member is Eyton Stibbe, the second Israeli to go into space. The first was Ilan Ramon, who died in the 2003 Colombia accident. Stibbe, who worked under him during his time as a military pilot, was one of the main contributors to the creation of the Ramon Foundation, which now sponsors the flight. , It will perform a series of demonstrations and tests, including a radiation protective suit.

The launch of new astronauts into space is no longer news. Even when it comes to private citizens who have decided to pay the ticket price out of their own pocket. Jared Isaacman not only invited three fellow passengers, but was so pleased with the experience that he has already booked three more flights. The first cost “somewhat less” over 200 million.

Raphael Clement He is an industrial engineer and was the founder and first director of the Barcelona Science Museum (now CosmoCaixa). He is the author of ‘A Small Step Two’ [un] Man’ (Dom Books).

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