Home away from home as astronauts tuck in

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 June, 2012, 12:00am


The space lives of the three astronauts who are scheduled to set foot on the Tiangong-1 space module this afternoon will not be all that different from what they are accustomed to back on earth - complete with Chinese fried rice and their favourite pop songs.

The Shenzhou-IX spacecraft blasted off on Saturday evening, and the astronauts' first meal came at around 10pm. They were given assorted fried rice, mushrooms and meat with hot pickled mustard tubers, the Jiangsu-based Modern Express newspaper reported.

Also on the menu was spicy chilli sauce, to help counteract the effects of the new environment on the crew members' sense of taste.

On the rest of the 13-day trip, the astronauts will have their pick of more than 50 kinds of food, including chocolate dessert and pineapple juice. The crew is using solar energy to heat their meals, and they were allowed to bring laptops along so they can listen to music, watch movies, or even video-chat with their families in a private room. This will be the first time that real-time video chatting is available on the Tiangong-1.

China's first woman in space, 33-year-old Liu Yang , selected some of her favourite music to bring along, including Dream Pursuer by popular Taiwanese singer Luo Dayou, who is especially popular among people born in the 1970s.

The crew can even log online and update their microblog statuses, and they were allowed to bring their own cameras to document the trip.

Some small games will test the astronauts' cognitive abilities in the zero-gravity conditions of space.

As day and night will come in about 90-minute cycles for the crew in space, lights can be adjusted inside the sleeping areas to block out light. And the crew were told to try their best to keep their biological clocks in check by maintaining their regular sleeping habits, which will allow them to operate in their best physical condition. They will be on Beijing time during the trip, and earth colleagues will remind them when to go to bed.