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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

image for India launches first Moon-based curry stand
Extra spicy, please.

India has successfully launched its first mission to the Moon and begun construction on their long-awaited lunar-based Indian food stand.

The Chandrayaan 1 spacecraft blasted off smoothly from a launch pad in southern Andhra Pradesh to embark on a two-year mission of exploration, construction and consumption of what is described as the finest of Indian cuisine.

The food stand will remain permanently on the Moon, offering a varied menu of curries to future astronauts, cosmonauts and other high-flying gourmands well into the next decades. This first food stand is regarded as a major step for India as it seeks to keep pace with other space-faring nations while still retaining and providing the best of Indian ethnic identity.

The news was greeted with applause by NASA and other space agencies whose space-farers have long had to endure bland and unidentifiable foodstuffs prepackaged in Malaysian sweatshops.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says there has been a lot of excitement about the event, which was broadcast live on national TV.

An Indian-built launcher carrying the one-and-a-half-tonne spaceship blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at about 0620 local time (0050 GMT). Powered by a single solar panel generating about 700 Watts, the Indian Cuisine Space Organisation (ICSO) ship carries five Indian-built cooking instruments and six untrained cooks.

The mission is expected to cost 3.8bn rupees (£45m; $78m) while a really good lunar curry with all the fixings is expected to cost 6651 INR (£104; $135), though prices are expected to drop as customer traffic increases.

India, China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the US and the EU all have eyes on a share of the commercial launch business and lunar service industry and see their space programmes as an important part of their economic recovery.

Last month, China became only the third country in the world to independently carry out a successful spacewalk. Upon their return, and after their stomachs had been pumped, the 'cathaynauts' only complaint concerned the limited off-world food options - they had no idea what had been in their meal packets but told reporters, "it tasted like chicken that had gone decidedly off".

It is this sort of problem that ICSO hopes to address with their envisioned chain of Indian restaurants and curry stands on the Moon's surface and in orbit.

But the Indian government's space culinary efforts have not been universally welcomed.

France is working on Café de Vomi, a dedicated lunar satellite that will be home to several authentic posh French restaurants complete with rude homosexual waiters and menus without price listings.

Café de Vomi is scheduled to launch sometime next year, provided the winds are favorable.

The People's Republic of China is said to be negotiating with space-faring nations in an effort to snare 100% of all future off-world dry-cleaning and laundry services but Beijing has not provided official confirmation.

In the US, McDonald's and Burger King are in a bidding war with NASA to be the first to ask cosmonauts, cathaynauts, astronauts and other traffickers in moonshine that all-American existential question:

"Would you like fries with that?"

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