A selection of Italian extra virgin olive oils will leave Earth in the spring of 2022 to reach the ISS, the International Space Station, thanks to a flight opportunity from the Italian Space Agency. This is what the Italian Space Agency announces, on the occasion of International Olive Day, which carried out the project within the framework of an agreement with the Council for Research in Agriculture and Analysis of the Agricultural Economy (CREA), which made use of the collaboration of Coldiretti and Unaprol (the Italian Olive Consortium).
The four “space” extra virgin olive oils selected are Italian products of the highest quality from different regions and each obtained from a single type of olives, representing the 533 varieties and which make our country unique. Part of the oils will be used for the preparation of the so-called bonus food for the Expedition 67/68 crew, which includes the Italian astronaut of the ESA astronaut corps, Samantha Cristoforetti. Bonus food indicates the specialties that each astronaut can choose to bring with them to supplement the standard diet provided, specialties that are prepared and packaged on the ground.
The oils, distinct and labeled based on intensity and sensory profile, will be available to the crew to accompany a specific type of food: meat, fish, vegetables and one to enhance the most intense flavors. Some selected oil samples will be the protagonists of an unprecedented experiment on the effects of staying in space on this important food.
The spatial excellence that ASI guides in the sector joins in this project with quality products that represent the tradition of our country. The agreement, which allows the launch into orbit of this selection of extra virgin olive oils, aims to underline the importance of the Italian agri-food heritage, enhance and raise awareness of a strategic national asset for the country’s exports, as well as promote principles of proper nutrition. Fundamental principles also in space environment, where the correct nutrition of astronauts is a very important issue for health on board the ISS. The positive health effects associated with the consumption of extra virgin olive oil have been proven by numerous scientific studies. The extra virgin olive oils selected by Coldiretti and Unaprol for the project share a high content of natural antioxidants, which are essential for those who, like astronauts, are subjected to conditions of intense psycho-physical stress.