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Flavors, toilet improve Chinese taikonauts' space life
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08:08, September 26, 2008

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· Shenzhou-7, China's 3rd Manned Space Mission
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A wide variety of seasoning sauces, but a less diverse colors of furniture and decoration inside the module. The three Chinese taikonauts who began their mission Thursday evening will have flavored but, perhaps, not that colorful days in outer space.

Above all, however, the men will surely boast the convenience of a toilet that was a luxury their predecessors might dreamed of in the previous two missions.

China successfully launched its third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 at 9:10 p.m. on Thursday with three astronauts on board to attempt the country's first-ever space walk.

The three men will orbit the earth for about three days.

Nutritionists and cooks have prepared 80 foods, from Kung Pao Chicken and deshelled shrimp to frozen dry fruits, for the trio of Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng, according to Chen Bin, who is in charge of food supply to the astronauts.

For vinegar-loving Jing, the seasoning is well at hand, as various seasoning sauces are provided on board. The astronaut is from northern Shanxi Province, where vinegar is a favorite condiment for locals.

Compared with Jing, Nie Haisheng, an astronaut on the Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005, was not that lucky. "I missed very much my favorite spicy foods and garlic sauce during my flight," Nie recalled.

The food heater on board has a stronger electricity supply than that on Shenzhou-6 as it is connected to the main power supply, which will make sure their rice can be fully cooked, Chen said.

The foods are kept in retort pouches. "We have tried to make them taste like stir-fried dishes they have on the earth," Chen said.

As the astronauts will stay in an environment with low pressure, they should not eat foods that produce gas after being digested, such as milk and soy bean, Chen said. "Meat and egg are better."

Even they have a good appetite, the astronauts, however, can not eat as much as they can. Each of them will have 1.2 kg of food every day. And the supply can last five days.

Also, they will have to eat by turns and it will take half an hour to heat the foods for one person.

"As astronauts have a longer stay in the space, foods will be a good way to relieve their pressure. We plan to add snacks in the future," Chen said.

Furniture and interior decoration are also of considerate designs.

White and light brown are the main colors inside the spaceship. "Tests show that this two colors are the mildest and least likely to harm human eyes," said Yu Jin, spaceship engineer in charge of interior decoration.

The three chairs for astronauts are painted in light grey, covering up their original metal material.

All equipment and wires, including food heater, toilet, sleeping bags and air tanks, are hidden inside the wall, which makes the module neat and tidy.

The astronauts need not look up and down to watch the screens nor sit up to work on the panel.

Two suits for space walk, fixed on the bracket, take up one third of the whole space inside the vessel. But the astronauts still have enough room to move.

No toilet was on board of the previous two manned spaceships. The men had to wear diapers.

But this time a toilet is set up. The toilet seat is tailor-made to astronauts' figure and it also includes a separate urinal.

China sent its first man into space in 2003, and the mission lasted one day. The two taikonauts in the country's second manned space mission in 2005 orbited the earth for five days.


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