As India plans its first manned mission outside the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists are busy working on a freeze-dried curry to help make astronauts feel right at home.

India’s space programme is expecting to send two air force personnel into orbit by the end of the next decade as part of an ambitious $2.5bn project following on from the countries successful unmanned lunar probe launch last year.

Director of the Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Dr A S Bawa told the AFP that food scientists, biochemists and microbiologists had already begun identifying dishes that could help the astronauts settle in space.

“It will have to be in freeze-dried form for the sake of lightness and compactness. We have started work on curries like chicken and mutton as well as spinach, peas and mushrooms,” Bawa said.

“The main difference will be in terms of the packaging. Most of these things will have to be the kind where you pour water onto it and eat it without a spoon. It may have to be consumed through a straw.”

Bawa also admitted that the curries would not be as hot as Indians enjoy on Earth.

“These foods have to be readily digestible. They shouldn’t put too much strain on the stomachs of the astronauts, both from the fat and spice point of view.”