The sweet and crispy Opal apple had the prestigious honor of being sent up to the International Space Station this past Saturday. The news came last fall when The Johnson Space Center sent the request for apples to FirstFruits of Washington, a collaborative apple marketing company owned by growers.
"This is a special honor, to be able to provide fresh apples to the crew members at the International Space Station," said Ralph Broetje, owner-operator of Broetje Orchards. "When we got the request for apples we knew right away that we wanted to send Opal, the most special apple in our line-up."
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched the seventh Dragon spacecraft on the fifth operational cargo delivery mission to the International Space Station on January 10, 2015 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The flight is being conducted under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA.
NASA indicated in its request it wanted to connect the fresh fruit back to the actual farmers, and approached FirstFruits of Washington and their growers with the request. The founders of Broetje Orchards and exclusive growers of Opal apple in North America, Ralph and Cheryl Broetje, were happy to oblige and have sent a note to accompany the apples to the space station.
Because of the high cost of sending items into space, the quantity of apples is limited, which means only one or two apples per crew member. Expedition 41 launched on September 25, 2014. The crew consists of three Russian cosmonauts, two NASA astronauts, and one member of the European Space Agency. The question is, will they share nicely or try to hoard them for themselves just like people do here on planet Earth?