Barilla's pasta will embark on a cosmic journey to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, the Italian Air Force and Axiom Space.
Through this initiative, Italy seeks to bolster its bid for listing its cuisine as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Around three kilograms of fusilli will be taken to the ISS this month by the crew of the Ax-3 mission, which includes Air Force Colonel Walter Villadei.
'Extreme Tasting Test'
The project will involve 'the most extreme tasting test ever', according to Barilla.
During the mission, the pasta giant will involve some crew members in sensory experiments to gain a better understanding of the nutritional requirements of astronauts in extreme conditions.
In zero gravity, the experience of food and the perception of flavours are very different, and Barilla seeks to ‘challenge’ this unique environment with its pasta.
As a widely popular food item, the company believes that pasta is an 'ideal candidate' to explore and design the future of food.
Paolo Barilla, vice-president of the Barilla Group stated, "We have been producing pasta for more than 140 years. It is a product rooted in the very distant past and is an icon of Italian cuisine around the world.
"Being part of this space mission fills us with pride and offers us the opportunity to explore a new frontier of nutrition, giving astronauts a bit of the feeling of being at home."
The pasta Barilla will be sending into space is already cooked and ready to be heated as food preparation in the space station involves rehydrating or heating ready-to-use products.
Moreover, boiling pasta in microgravity is impossible, the company noted.
Barilla’s R&D team has worked to ensure that the recipe represents authentic Italian taste and flavours and remains al dente even before the countdown.
Cristina Gallina, director of the Barilla Global Discovery Centre, added, "The process has been carefully fine-tuned to ensure that the pasta keeps its consistency and offers that wonderful resistance to the bite, which is the pinnacle of the experience of a good pasta dish all over the world.
"The product is only heat-treated, to make it safe to store at room temperature for long periods, with no added preservatives or additives. Our pasta seasoned with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt is the closest product to tradition that we can take into space at the moment."