Prepare for liftoff! Students compete to send food to space
If -- or when -- they win the competition, a dish they created will be eaten by astronauts.
JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) -Astronauts may be thousands of miles away in space, but they could soon be accompanied by a small piece of Northeast Arkansas.
Four students at the NEA Career and Technical Center in Jonesboro are about to embark on the mission of a lifetime. Juan Velazquez, Dillon Adams, Yasmine Talib, and Brianna Smallman have all been chosen to represent their school in Huntsville, Alabama, as part of NASA’s “Deep Space Food Challenge.”
“I was shocked. It seems unreal. When our chef told us about it, I actually thought he was lying,” Talib said with a giggle. “It’s pretty amazing.”
The competition’s mission statement says in part “Teams are invited to create novel and game-changing food technologies or systems that require minimal inputs and maximize safe, nutritious, and palatable food outputs for long-duration space missions.” In other words, the students will be crafting an innovative dish that could one day end up as a meal for astronauts orbiting the Earth.
First, though, they have to win the competition.
“I’m pretty excited. I get to practice my passion and maybe get recognized by astronauts!” Smallman exclaimed.
The NEACTC is one of just six schools chosen to compete in the challenge. They will be competing alongside fellow amateurs as well as professionals from across the United States and the world to be the last team standing.
“It’s scary, knowing that something that my partners and I have created will be getting sent to the space station to be eaten by astronauts that are making history,” Adams said.
If they win in Huntsville, they will move on to a larger competition in Houston, Texas. A win there would earn their dish a one-way ticket into orbit.
“It’s honestly a dream come true,” Velazquez said.
In the meantime, however, they just want to have fun doing something they love while still getting an education.
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