A restaurant group has partnered with leading Japanese space startup Space BD to launch an unusual payload into space – ramen ingredients.
But the purpose of the launch has nothing to do with delivering food. Instead, the mission’s primary goal is to expose ingredients such as noodles and pork, alongside ramen bowls and other payloads, to cosmic rays for six months at the International Space Station (ISS).
Once the mission is completed, the cosmic-radiated ingredients will be returned to Earth in the fall of 2024 and used to create a special Meteorite Ramen Bowl at a grand event in time for the 2025 Osaka-Kansai International Expo, Japanese ramen chain UNCHI said in a statement released on November 15, 2023.
Ramen that’s out of this world
The project saw UNCHI’s signature ramen ingredients blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on board SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, on November 10, 2023, as part of a space delivery project called ‘RETURN to EARTH’.
In a press release issued by Space BD on October 26, 2023, the Japanese space startup said once the items arrive at the ISS astronauts will attach the payload “to an extravehicular platform and expose it to outer space”.
Promotion of UNCHI was also cited as one of the project objectives.
“The mission of UNCHI is to change the world with the power of ramen,” UNCHI CEO Takahiro Matsumura was quoted in the Space BD press release.
“Through this project, we will take the lead in bringing more energy to Osaka and the world!” Matsumura added.
The payload includes other items from research centers, educational institutions, and private sector companies. Among these are a Masa Hayami art piece and research materials, such as a small simple exposure experiment device (ExBAS).
According to Space BD’s October press release, the items will also be subjected to space conditions, highlighting the project’s diverse applications ranging from research and development to promotion.
This is the third time Space BD has transported a variety of items to space under the “RETURN to EARTH” project. Previously, the project, which began at the end of 2021, launched payloads, including diamonds, wood, and glue, from a variety of Japanese and international companies into space.