BEIJING, July 24 (Xinhua) -- Ordinary Chinese may
soon be able to have a taste of the astronaut life when food designed for
China's taikonauts (or astronauts) lands in supermarkets.
The Scientific Research and Training Center for Chinese Astronauts and a Shanghai food company had developed
chocolate and desserts for taikonauts and the products would be on the shelves
by the end of the year, said Chen Bin, head of the center's food and nutrition
"The two items will also been added to the space menu
for the next manned space flight Shenzhou VII, the third in China's manned space
program in 2008," said Chen, who calls himself "the space chef".
Chen's center has developed more than 60 space
dishes, including staple foods, meat and vegetable dishes, fruit and desserts
and it began cooperation with food companies on mass production in 2006.
"Following our technology and quality standards, the
companies produce food at their workshops with their equipment. The production
was supervised by our nutritionists," said Chen.
Chen was confident of the market prospects of the
space food, which boast high standards on quality and nutrition, and are
convenient to carry.
The food eaten daily by China's first three
astronauts during missions in 2003 and 2005 weighed around 1.75 kilograms with
packaging, less than two thirds of an average adult's daily food consumption,
but enough to provide 2,400 calories of energy required by an astronaut.
"They are especially suitable for outdoor activities,
such as polar region expeditions, mountain climbing and traveling," said Chen.
He said the center had adopted a series of "strict"
criteria in ingredient selection and processing to ensure food safety, which
would be another attraction for consumers after a spate of recent food scandals.
"For example, we required the air in the food
workshop should be as clean as that in a pharmaceutical workshop," said Chen.
Chen and his colleagues worked hard to develop new
recipes and improve the food flavors. Their latest works include roast pork,
stewed duck breast, taro-stuffed moon cake and frozen cantaloup chips.
"The astronauts are not picky about the taste, but
most of them prefer spicy food which is more appealing after rigorous training.
So more Sichuan-flavored dishes may appear on their menu," said Chen.