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Astronauts to Make Cookies with New Test Oven

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Astronauts on the International Space Station will soon test a new oven for making chocolate chip cookies.

A spaceship carrying the cooking equipment and other supplies was launched Saturday from the Wallops Flight Facility in the United States. The shipment, weighing 3,700 kilograms, reached the space station on Monday.

The goal is to explore the possibility of making freshly baked cookies for space travelers.

American company Nanoracks designed and built the oven and helped with organizing the flight to the space station. Hilton DoubleTree hotels supplied the cookie dough the astronauts will use.

In the past, space station crews have created their own pizzas using a thin, flat piece of bread known as flatbread. Astronauts have tried other creative ways to make food, such as creating salads from vegetables grown in the space station. Results have been mixed.

The cookie baking will be a slow process. The oven can heat just one cookie at a time. It could be weeks before the astronauts have time to try out the oven.

Five unbaked cookies have been in a space station freezer for several weeks. Each is in its own individual clear bag made out of silicone. The oven can heat foods to temperatures as high as 177 degrees Celsius. That is twice the temperature of the U.S. and Russian food warmers on the space station. The oven uses electric heating elements.

Mary Murphy is with Nanoracks. Murphy said she expects a baking time of 15 to 20 minutes for each cookie when the oven is heated to about 163 degrees Celsius. She added that the smell of baking cookies should fill the space station each time a cookie comes out of the oven. The Associated Press reported her comments.

The oven's first use will be the real test. Without the force of gravity, the astronauts do not know exactly how the cookie will look. Three of the space-baked cookies are to be returned to Earth for testing.

"Baking doesn't always go according to plan, even on the ground," said Murphy.

The American space agency NASA has agreements with two companies, Northrop Grumman and SpaceX, to keep the space station supplied. The recent launch is Northrop Grumman's 12th successful flight of its Cygnus rocket since 2013.

I'm Jonathan Evans.

Marcia Dunn reported this story for the Associated Press. Jonathan Evans adapted the story for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

dough – n. a mixture of flour, water, and other ingredients that is baked to make bread, cookies, etc.

heating element – n. the part of an electric heating appliance in which the electrical energy is transformed into heat

salad – n. a mixture of raw green vegetables (such as different types of lettuce) usually combined with other raw vegetables

silicone – n. a chemical compound that does not let water or heat pass through and that is used to make rubber and grease and in plastic surgery

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