Cucumbers may be out of favor on earth, but a Japanese astronaut wants to grow them in the final frontier. But even if he succeeds, he won’t be able to eat them. Satoshi Furukawa said he would be growing cucumbers as part of ongoing studies on how future space explorers will be able to harvest their own food. Furukawa, also a doctor, will be joined by Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and NASA astronaut Michael Fossum this week on a six-month trip to the International Space Station. "We wish we were able to eat the cucumbers, but we have not been allowed," Furukawa said at a news conference.
Mindful of their own health ahead of their mission, the three remain in strict isolation in the days ahead of the launch to avoid exposure to infection. Furukawa, Fossum, and Volkov sat behind a plate of protective glass as they talked about the highlights of their upcoming mission. Volkov joked that the Russian segment will be planting tomatoes and hoped astronauts might be granted permission to prepare a salad. He added that "to be honest, what I would really like is fried potatoes." Japan has led the way in trying to raise culinary standards in space. Another Japanese astronaut even made his own sushi while on the space station last year. (Read more International Space Station stories.)