What do Chinese astronauts eat in space? Not just dehydrated biscuits as many people imagine.
They now have choices like shredded pork sauteed with garlic and chili sauce, and grilled beef with spicy sauce.
These popular Chinese dishes are vacuum packed and only need to be heated for 20 minutes before eating.
This will not be a problem. The Shenzhou VII has a facility to heat food, the Beijing-based weekly Oriental Outlook reported.
It was first installed in the Shenzhou VI mission in 2005.
The dishes have been specially prepared to more than satisfy the astronauts.
Nie Haisheng, one of the two astronauts on the Shenzhou VI mission, had said earlier he especially liked the food as it was spicy, with a lot of garlic.
Chen Bin, director of the space food and nutrition lab, said experiments have shown that spicy food is ideal, as one loses the taste of salt when in space.
The lab prepared more than 100 varieties of food and invited astronauts to sample them and give a score.
During the mission, the astronauts will have three meals a day with five dishes on the menu.
The menu includes rice, vegetables, meat, and dehydrated fruit - strawberries, apples, bananas, peaches and melons.
For beverages, the astronauts have a choice of coffee, green tea, orange juice and soups.
The beverages will be "injected" into an astronaut's mouth through a pipe, because weightlessness in space makes it impossible to drink from a cup.
For astronauts, the nutritional value of the food is more important than its taste.
Liu Zhiheng, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said astronauts who spend long periods in space can suffer from muscle atrophy.
Therefore, the food must be rich in calcium and Vitamin D, he said.
(China Daily September 25, 2008)