• Kyodo

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NASA is developing new space foods for three astronauts who will inhabit the International Space Station from late October, officials said Tuesday.

NASA food specialists have developed 30 new types of nourishment, including dishes containing tuna, crawfish and chicken, in a bid to prevent the first full-time ISS residents from getting bored with conventional zero-gravity fare, they said.

They showed reporters three new types of space sustenance Tuesday morning.

Chiaki Mukai, a 48-year-old payload specialist and Japan’s first female astronaut, sampled comestibles such as tuna with cream sauce and said, “Everything tastes good to me, and this is also yummy.”

NASA currently serves 150 different space foods. Shuttle crews can choose mission meals in advance from NASA’s menu and are also allowed to bring along other rations themselves.

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, a 37-year-old robot-arm specialist currently working on the construction of the ISS with other space shuttle Discovery crew members through Sunday, has taken Japanese food such as miso soup and rice crackers on the mission.

Mamoru Mohri, another Japanese astronaut who is serving as ground support for the Discovery mission, has taken a Japanese version of curry served with rice with him into space.

Mohri, 52, flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in September 1992 and in February.

The three astronauts — two Russians and an American — are scheduled to lift off for the ISS later this month from Kazakstan aboard a Soyuz rocket and will dwell in it until a replacement crew arrives in February.

In addition to the 150 foods, Russia will supply 100 types of standard space fare for the three.

A U.S. habitation module for the ISS expected to be launched in 2005 will be equipped with a freezer, refrigerator and microwave, NASA officials said.

“I believe astronauts will be able to have the same kinds of meals as those provided on the ground,” Mukai said.

The ISS, being built by Brazil, Canada, European countries, Japan and the United States, is set for completion in April 2006.

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