For some countries, the space race is about humble beginnings.
As SpaceX flew the first crew of all-private astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on the other side of the world, a tasty dish of “tube” kebab from Adana, a city in southern Turkey, was rocketed into the stratosphere Tuesday.
Yaşar Aydın, the owner of a kebab restaurant, organized the demonstration with the support of local entrepreneur İdris Albayrak. Albayrak, an aerospace engineering student, oversaw the entire launch into the stratosphere, Daily Sabah reports.
Pipe kebab, a new popular dish in Adana that consists of chopped lamb ribs wrapped around a steel tube instead of skewers to keep it “juicy,” has been placed in a special box designed to withstand the extreme temperatures in the sky. Then the box, complete with cameras and a tracking device, was mounted on a helium balloon.
The pipe kebab was of course the eye-catcher. Accompanied by side dishes like onions and salads, it was shot into space where it enjoyed the idyllic scenery of southern parts of Turkey.
A humble beginning
The kebab was introduced on April 12, International Human Spaceflight Day. It’s the anniversary of the first manned space flight, performed by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. On April 12, 1961, Gagarin was launched into space aboard a Vostok 3KA spacecraft on a Vostok-K rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and orbited the Earth once in one hour and 29 minutes at a maximum altitude of 187 miles (301 kilometers) . , making him the first human to orbit the earth. The kebab had a rather similar Mission.
To jubilant and puzzled looks from onlookers, a box full of pipe kebabs was sent into space. After a 3-hour journey, the balloon, which had risen about 38 km above land, burst and parachuted into the sea off the coast of Hatay, a southern Turkish province.
After tracking down the flying kebab, Aydın and his team were able to recover the box with its contents essentially intact. They were surprised to see that the fish had obviously nibbled on the kebab, which is actually quite spicy.
Aydın made several humorous remarks after the demonstration. “I think aliens sent it back because it had too much pepper. I’ll send a dish with less pepper next time,” he joked after retrieving the box.
The first doner kebab in space?
Aydın also vowed to continue his efforts to launch the dish further into space. “I am a person who always likes the first and I plan many other different projects. Since I’m a kebab maker, my projects always revolve around kebabs,” Aydın said, according to a report by the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet. “We’ve been able to bring the kebab to a certain level of atmosphere at the moment, but maybe we want to raise it even more in the future. We will deliver this doner kebab all over the world.”
Overall, the kebab couldn’t go beyond atmosphere, which is understandable given that a helium balloon literally bore the burden of the entire project. To reach space, it would have to fly 62 miles (100 kilometers) above sea level and cross the Karman line, which is the boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and space.
The demonstration didn’t snag the title “The first doner kebab in space,” but it’s probably the only doner kebab that has ever climbed that high. Perhaps, if allowed in the capsule that will next be sent to the ISS or even the moon, it can reach more distant frontiers of space along with humanity.