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Barilla pasta lands on astronauts’ menus

22 January 20243 min reading

For the first time, Barilla pasta is going into orbit, co-ordinated by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty and individually by Minister Francesco Lollobrigida, to bring the flavour of Italian cuisine to the International Space Station.  

Paolo Barilla, Vice President of the Barilla Group

It really is true to say: “where there's Barilla, there's home”, even in the International Space Station (ISS). Barilla pasta, which has always reminded Italians of the warmth of home anywhere in the world, will now even conquer space, for the most extreme tasting test ever. There will be about 3kg of Barilla fusilli in the space capsule to be taken into orbit next month, January 2024 – for two weeks – aboard the ISS by the crew of the Ax-3 mission, including Air Force Colonel Walter Villadei. The initiative has resulted from the collaboration between Barilla and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, the Italian Air Force and Axiom Space to support the application for Italian cuisine to be listed as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

During the mission, Barilla will involve some crew members in sensory experiments to gain a better understanding of the nutritional requirements of astronauts in extreme conditions. Actually, in zero gravity, the experience of food and the perception of flavours are very different. Barilla wants to ‘challenge’ this unique environment with its pasta, a traditional food product that is innovative and practical at the same time, with a high nutritional and energy value. 

"We have been producing pasta for more than 140 years. It is a product rooted in the very distant past and is an icon of Italian cuisine around the world. Being part of this space mission fills us with pride and offers us the opportunity to explore a new frontier of nutrition, giving astronauts a bit of the feeling of being at home”, noted Paolo Barilla, Vice President of the Barilla Group.

BARILLA FUSILLI IN SPACE

Astronauts prepare food and eat like the rest of us, but the zero-gravity environment in which they do so means that part of the daily ‘land-based’ routine becomes a major technological challenge. Everyday activities, which we might take for granted here on Earth, become genuine missions in space, requiring meticulous planning and preparation. Often, food preparation involves not so much cooking, but rather rehydrating or heating ready-to-use products in the devices at the space station. Pasta must be adapted to these needs too. Boiling pasta in microgravity is impossible. The pasta Barilla will be sending into space is therefore already cooked and ready to be heated and enjoyed. Barilla’s R&D team has worked to ensure that the recipe in all its simplicity, pasta, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, represents the experience of Italian goodness and guarantees that it can remain al dente even before the countdown.

Cristina Gallina, Director of the Barilla Global Discovery Centre

"The product is only heat-treated, to make it safe to store at room temperature for long periods, with no added preservatives or additives. Our pasta seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt is the closest product to tradition that we can take into space at the moment. To provide nutrition and pleasure to astronauts from Italy and from all over the world”, explained Cristina Gallina, Director of the Barilla Global Discovery Centre.

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