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Space NASA

Astronaut Has 'Wasabi Spill' in Space 164

Sda~ writes "You learn something new everyday: There is nothing in the astronaut training manual about how to clean up flying wasabi. An inadvertent Wasabi spill this week aboard the ISS has made space agencies re-evaluate including the spicy paste in future meals. The astronauts are allowed some of their favorite foods on each trip, to alleviate homesickness. 'Williams, whose father was born in India, has several Indian dishes in her bonus container, including Punjabi kadhi with pakora - vegetable fritters topped with yogurt and curry - and mutter paneer, a curry dish. The dishes are packaged to have a long shelf life in space. Her U.S. crew mate, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, is an even bigger foodie. Lopez-Alegria, who was born in Madrid but grew up in California, had Spanish muffins known as magdalenas, chorizo pork sausage and latte in his bonus container.'"
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Astronaut Has 'Wasabi Spill' in Space

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  • by Scarletdown ( 886459 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @10:54PM (#18214678) Journal
    At least the wasabi sauce didn't find its way to Uranus.
    • I was going to make a uranus joke! well played sir... well played.
    • But wasabi isn't oil, so why would there be a problem?
    • I for one welcome our flying wasabi overlords!
    • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @03:33AM (#18215894) Journal
      Think about sex in space. Zero gravity sex could be an amazing thing, I imagine, but the cleanup...

      I mean, you could conceivably keep it clean -- swallow it all, I'm sure you can fill in the blanks. Or, someone could get stupid and try to bukakke...
      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
        Well some people suggested that the NASA already made experiments about sex in space. Officially only plants and animals were observed, but the goal was clearly to know if a human colony would be sustainable in space. According to the wikipedia [] the NASA had created a pool for humans to "experiment" in microgravity. It has also be noted in the past that the proportion of women astronauts is higher than the proportion of women scientist in ground based labs. It is a too strategic question to know if sex is po
        • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
          please disregard the remark about abnormal number of female astronauts, I have been fed an hoax...
        • OT: "the NASA"? (Score:2, Interesting)

          by dosquatch ( 924618 )

          "the NASA"? I know it would be "the National Aeronautics and Space Administration", but I've always seen the acronym "NASA" used as its own proper noun. i.e., "NASA said..." rather than "The NASA said..."

          I'm seriously not trying to play language nazi here, I'm really curious. It seems like if it would be "the National Aeronautics [...]", then it should also be "the NASA" (especially considering how much noise is thrown up about "ATM Machine" being redundant), unless NASA is some sort of an exception?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
            Well in my case I didn't thought too much about it. My native language is French and we say "la NASA". Feminine form because "Administration" is feminine in French. I suspect that I make a lot of mistake using "the" in inappropriate places...
            • I suspect that I make a lot of mistake using "the" in inappropriate places.

              Not at all, you're fine. I ask my question because I'm not sure that you are the one making the mistake. It might be us native speakers. Unfortunately, the only language nazi I managed to attract decided to answer everything except the question I was asking.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I suspect they could use the same procedure they use for flying vomit, flying tang, or flying vomited tang.

    FYI Most space wasabi is actually horseradish.
    • by badasscat ( 563442 ) <basscadet75@y a h o o . com> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @12:04AM (#18215024)
      FYI Most space wasabi is actually horseradish.

      The description in the summary did have me wondering. Wasabi is not really a "paste", and the real Japanese condiment does not exhibit the properties of a liquid. It's more like the consistency of slightly damp clay powder. It would almost seem like the perfect condiment to take into space because it's not liquid enough to spill, nor is it solid or powdery enough for the granules to get into anything (like, say, salt would).

      But if it's really just colored horseradish, that would explain things. Horseradish doesn't need to be a liquid either but it typically is when packaged as a condiment.

      I guess my point is, it sounds like the solution to this problem is for NASA to upgrade the quality of their wasabi!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:00PM (#18214706)
    ...the astronauts drank Tang and liked it, dagnabbit!
  • You just forget about the wasabi incident or I'm going to diaper drive over to your house and kick your ass.
    • By the moderation, am I to assume that the term 'diaper drive' isn't going to enter the lexicon in the same way that 'drunk dial' has?
  • by Elrond, Duke of URL ( 2657 ) <> on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:05PM (#18214736) Homepage

    Well, that settles it. If I can get chorizo in space, sign me up. It's hard enough to find here on Earth in most places.


    • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:51PM (#18214958) Homepage Journal
      The bigger question is what do his fellow astronauts think about the chorizo a few hours after he's eaten it? It's not like you can open a window, or blame the dog.
      • A problem easily solved if the flatulent astronaut is outnumbered. Just hold him down and put his helmet on, thus sealing his space-suit...

        Anyone care to come up with a term for a masochistic space dutch oven?
    • "It's hard enough to find here on Earth in most places."

      Where are you at? It's all over here in SoCal. We probably just have the whole planet's supply of it concentrated here...
      • by lordofthechia ( 598872 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:46AM (#18215498)
        Depends on which kind of chorizo you're talking about. Mexican chorizo (the kind I've seen anyway) has a consistency like uncooked breakfast sausage (and indeed when you buy it in the store it must be cooked before consumption).

        Spanish chorizo (my favorite by far) is a different animal all together (well still pig). It's ready to eat, has a consistency like salami and is generally sliced a few mm thick when served on a sandwich.

        Now you should see the difference between what Mexicans call tortillas and what tortillas are in Spain! (Spanish tortillas are more like a quiche or omelet made from a dozen to 18 eggs, containing green peppers and potatoes, they're about 6cm thick and quite delicious).

        Ok, now I'm hungry for a Spanish chorizo and Manchego cheese sandwich dammit!
      • I'm from Southern Arizona (Tucson) and, like SoCal, it is everywhere. That is, Mexican restaurants, markets, etc. are all over the place and you'd be hard pressed to find one that doesn't sell chorizo. Even most ordinary grocery stores carry passable chorizo. The best always came from my grandparents in Bisbee which is a stone's throw from the border.

        Now, I'm in Amherst, Mass. and it is significantly harder to find. What I can locate is usually Spanish style chorizo. That's not bad, of course, but mu

    • It's only hard to find if you're far away from Mexico, and/or don't want to visit the Mexican markets...
    • IHOP sells some basic Chorizo and they are located everywhere in the US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by drig ( 5119 )
      It's easy enough to make. Take a good fatty, but not grisly, cut of pork. Like the butt (which is the shoulder) or even some of the trimmings off cheap pork chops. Add chili powder. Grind. I've made it in my food processor and it was easily as good as any I had in Mexico. I use the Chili powder from Penzys spices.
    • That's cos Britain's hogging it all. []
  • by FlyByPC ( 841016 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:08PM (#18214756) Homepage
    Wasabi isn't a food -- it's a weapon. I'm convinced that if you brought two large chunks of it together fast enough, it would go supercritical...
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )
      It does, and the casualty is Uranus.

      • by Servo ( 9177 )
        I've consumed quite a bit of spicy food in my day including wasabi, but I've never had wasabi "punish" me beyond the initial sinus flash.

        And trust me, I've eaten so much wasabi in one sitting that my taste buds went numb for 2 days, with no further punishment.
        • Same here. I eat all sorts of spicy food (good ol' southern BBQ, Thai, Indian, etc). I even ordered one dish (can't remember what it was - some type of chicken in a orange colored sauce) at a local Indian place and asked for it "extra spicy". My lips were swelling up at the end and I was about to have to start plugging my nose with my napkin, but there was no later consequences. I think this "2nd burn" mentioned often only affects some people. Everyone who mentions it seems to not like spicy food - in
          • not true, I'm indian. grew up on food spicier than what most people have experienced. I have had problems with the after effects when having eaten a lot of pickle(indian pickles to be precise).

            well, it wasnt exactly natural how we consumed it. it was a competition to see who could eat the most. I think in the end, we both paid for it because our stomachs were bothering us for a couple of hours even though the food wasn't any spicier than what I'm used it. a foolishly large amount can do it to anyone in
        • I almost feel sorry for the wimps who can't handle wasabi but, on the other hand, more for me. I keep a container of wasabi powder on hand and mix some up whenever I fix a tuna steak.

          The local sushi place ( - see the Phoenix Role on the sushi menu) has a spicy role with seared tuna and lots of chili sauce. Absolutely incredible even with powdered wasabi but you have to try it with fresh wasabi. The fresh stuff is just as pungent as the powder but tastes better.

          • by Servo ( 9177 )
            One of the Japanese places back in my home town had flying fish eggs mixed with wasabi powder, enough to make 'em bright green. Surprisingly, I was one of the few people who ever ordered them. :)
    • With me, it goes supercritical a couple of hours after ingestion - what scientists have classed a "brown nova."
    • Not quite. It doesn't go supercritical -- it goes superficial.
    • by CODiNE ( 27417 )
      No kidding, just yesterday I tried a sushi platter sample at Costco. The lady was putting little individual rolls in those paper cupcake forms and laying them on the tray. I tried one and it was good, but I asked if it came with any wasabi or soy sauce. She goes "Oh yes! here... have another" and then proceeds to smoosh on a chunk of wasabi EQUALLY SIZED with the sushi!! "GAAAAH!!! STAAAAAP! Have you ever HAD wasabi before?" "No, I can't handle anything spicy". Crap... I wiped off all that I could
  • Useful practice? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:17PM (#18214802) Journal
    I wonder if this was a decent simulation of a more dangerous spill? What would they do if there was a leaking battery or something worse?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      At least she didn't spill hot grits on herself.
    • by temojen ( 678985 )
      Like powdered wasabi!
    • Probably okay for practice. I imagine there is probably already a plan in place for leaking batteries though, as well as most anything that's actually part of the station.

      When the plans were created there probably were no thoughts of wasabi, or tobasco, or any other wet foods being a problem. These guys can't make a computer handle rolling over to the new calendar at new years, or make sure their people aren't homicidal nutjobs, why should they bother testing parts/systems against food?
      • It's not that they can't make a computer capable of handling year end rollovers - It's that it's unnecessary. The shuttle was designed from day one to be on the ground for New Years.
      • These guys can't make a computer handle rolling over

        I had a computer handle that rolled once, think it was on an Osborne I. The plastic grip rotated all the time, not just new year's day. I don't think it was spaceworthy, though -- you would have had to have left one of the astronauts at home.

        (Gods save us from unambiguous speech in a humour drought).

    • by YGingras ( 605709 ) <> on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:06AM (#18215304) Homepage

      What would they do if there was a leaking battery or something worse?
      I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. --Ellen Ripley
  • I'm surprised they don't create a tennis racket-like device with a low-RPM multibladed fan and an accordian fine-mesh screen. Sweeping that slowly through the air would draw any floating particulates into the screen and the fan would provide just enough suction to hold them there. A smaller higher-rpm "dust buster" could clean the filter.
    • by sqrt(2) ( 786011 )
      Or they could maybe use...a drinking straw.
    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:30PM (#18214868) Homepage Journal

      I'm surprised they don't create a tennis racket-like device with a low-RPM multibladed fan and an accordian fine-mesh screen.

      They already have fans and filters, but it won't help if the wasabi is already sticking to something like a wall, some equipment, or a person. Cleaning up is an issue because water and cleaning materials are in short supply.

      It would be interesting to calculate the internal surface are of the ISS down to a reasonable scale. It must be several square kilometers, at least.

      • "Cleaning up is an issue because water and cleaning materials are in short supply."

        Baby Wipes are damn cheap at Wal-Mart.

    • They won't make such a device as RPM is too focused on Red Hat based distros. perhaps YUM would be a better alternative.
  • *Chuckle* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:20PM (#18214818)
    Tee hee! It's funny stories like this that really justify the $2billion/year price tag associated with the ISS! Remember that golf shot last year? And don't forget that cosmonaut who got married up there too.

    Lovely stuff..
  • I'd never go into space on a flying deat-- I mean... Space shuttle; but suppose I found myself on the ISS...

    How would they store my favorite food: Sushi?
    • by oostevo ( 736441 )
      Well, I hope I'm not missing a joke or anything, but ... erm ... from the article:

      The spicy greenish condiment was squirted out of a tube while astronaut Sunita Williams was trying to make a pretend sushi meal with bag-packaged salmon.
      So basically sushi was what caused this "incident."
    • Re:Hmmm... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:44PM (#18214928) Homepage Journal
      Well, a nice maki holds together well.

      The problem is condiments.

      For your Shoyu, I suggest a sponge. Natural of course. For all I know there's probably a species of sponge that is sushi. Place the sponge in a cylindrical container slightly larger than your roll, with a snap top. When you are ready to eat, you open the snap top and push your roll down into the container.

      Now -- for the wasabi. Condiments are tricky. One should start by asking -- why are condiments served on the side? Apart from differences in persional taste, the main reason is to keep liquids from migrating from the food to the condiment or vice versa, which would degrade the texture of the food, as well as cause a loss of identity between the two. This is why "peanut butter crackers" don't have normal peanut butter. Instead they have a rather dessicated, de-oiled peanut paste. If they put regular peanut butter in them, then the peanut butter would end up that way, but the cracker would turn to mush.

      So, I'm thinking a thin, tasteless cellulose polymer, formulated to have moisture barrier properties, sprayed on the surface of your sushi. We then apply the wasabi -- the less assembly done in space, the fewer chances for screwups, whether we're talking equipment or food. Since you only need a small amount of wasabi, it might be feasible to introduce gelatin or some other binding agent to give the wasabi greater adhering power. You don't want spray anything on the wasabi, since you are supposed to taste it on contact. Most other sushi ingredience release their full flavor after being bitten or masticated.

      Thin films -- after to an inanimate carbon rod, the next unsung hero of the space program.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Since you only need a small amount of wasabi...
        Allow me to introduce you to the notion of "Irish measure", which states:
        If "some" is good, "more" is better, and "way way way the fuck too much" should be just about right.
      • Nice ideas, but here's mine: Just make the people in space eat food out of a squeezy bag or tube. Who cares what they like, they're in space for the love of jeebus! Isn't that enough of a cool job without having to sweeten the deal with some of their favourite foods?

        It's bad enough that people get picky about their food when they have the awesome opportunity to go abroad; it's just taking the piss when they get picky about food in space. If they don't like eating vacuum packed food in space, they can stay
      • Waaaay too complicated. Why not use the inkjet printed edible paper that's big at that Chicago restaurant now? Made with real ingredients turned into ink form?

    • How would they store my favorite food: Sushi? I'm pretty sure they'd dehydrate it before launch >:)
    • In a fish tank of course. Unless you're willing to pretend "fresh-frozen" means something.
  • How is this a slow news day post? I mean, I know that most 'geeks' don't acknowledge the existence of food geeks or all of the exciting things happening in the realm of food science but..

    oh hell with it. /. hates food geeks.
  • Lay off (Score:5, Funny)

    by dangitman ( 862676 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:36PM (#18214890)

    Her U.S. crew mate, astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria, is an even bigger foodie.

    Yeah, we know Americans are somewhat large on average - but do we really have to draw attention to his weight problem? It can't be that bad if he's an astronaut. Maybe he just has big bones?

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:39PM (#18214910) Homepage

    One has to wonder. Surely this same kind of spill could happen with any semi-liquid item, eg. ketchup or mustard, with equal consequences for the equipment and people. There's plenty of chemicals that can spill and present as much of a vapor/inhalation hazard as wasabi if not more. And it's not like NASA doesn't know things like this can happen, we've got 40+ years of experience with zero-gee and more than that of sci-fi stories featuring comedy based around stuff in zero-gee floating where it's not supposed to be. Shouldn't this have been a total non-event, something long planned and prepared for?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What is more likely: That NASA, with 40+ years of experience, doesn't know how to handle this kind of thing? Or that a reporter for a business journal is neither well-informed on the topic, nor particularly interested in writing a boring article about how this isn't really news?
    • by jonwil ( 467024 )
      I wonder if things like potato chips would be allowed up there or if the crumbs would get into all the gaps and ruin the instruments?
      What about carbonated beverages (or would the low pressures that most spacecraft are kept under make that unworkable?)
      • I wonder if things like potato chips would be allowed up there or if the crumbs would get into all the gaps and ruin the instruments?

        Well, they are allowed only if you have an inanimate carbon rod to save you.
      • Be careful, they're ruffled!
  • air contaminants (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeff1946 ( 944062 ) on Friday March 02, 2007 @11:54PM (#18214970) Journal
    I have advised the folks who work on analyzing the air in the ISS. I talked to an astronaut about things that concerned them getting into the air. She said Tabasco sauce was one concern. With zero gravity a drop could float around and accidently be inhaled or get into your eye. Eventually the air filtration system will capture it. One of the effects of zero g on the human body is the redistribution of fluids which causes a loss of taste. This is why the astronauts like to add spicyness to their foods.
  • They're ruffled!!!
  • They don't have a little vacuum cleaner? Well they should, a tiny shopvac would be perfect.
  • (From space shuttle above the Earth) Homer: It's beautiful. It's the most awe-inspiring sight I have ever seen. Giver of life, mother of us all...hey guys, look what I smuggled aboard! [shows a bag of chips] Buzz Aldrin: Homer, no! [Homer breaks open bag; chips fly everywhere] Race Banyon: They'll clog the instruments! Buzz: Careful! They're ruffled! Homer: I'll handle this! [Homer floats around the cabin, eating chips to The Blue Danube - an obvious reference to 2001: A
  • and now the Wasabi Incident. After shorting out a critical relay, the ISS plunges to earth, hits Three Mile Island, and covers the entire east coast in a cloud of radioactive debris. Can Jimmy Carter save us now?
  • by Y-Crate ( 540566 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @01:32AM (#18215430)
    I'm quite a fan of Indian cuisine, but in light of the limitations of their air filtering system, don't you think it's a bit cruel to allow an astronaut to bring curry aboard the ISS?
  • Give Haliburton a multibillion dollar contract to clean up the spill! Their plan to build a tower of money to reach the space station is brilliant and we need to reward that kind of visionary thinking.
  • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Saturday March 03, 2007 @02:13AM (#18215610) least it won't drive 1000 miles wearing a diaper and try and kidnap another astronaut.
  • Let me know when the space station is threatened by ridged potato chips.
  • How long does a spicy crunch roll last in outerspace?

    Can I still eat it the next day?
  • Re-evaluate this. I got your re-evaluation right here.

    Months on end in an orbiting chunk of aerospace hardware, flickering lights, fans and radios... Imagine living inside your computer. Someone slops a little food on the wall and the bureaucrats call a meeting.

    Let them have their foil wrapped treats. It is worth the risks. I'd rather have someone who would insist on it instead of roll over. Someone eating wasabi on the space station; how cool is that?

    Happy Friday.

  • What's Wasabi?

Trap full -- please empty.