IBARAKI, Japan—Lawson’s fried chicken might soon go where no store-brand fried chicken has gone before—to outer space aboard a Japanese space mission, Sora News 24 reports. In response to Japanese astronaut requests for meat during space missions, Lawson embarked on a three-year mission in February 2017 to make its fried chicken space-worthy.
The regulations by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) proved challenging for Lawson, but the hardest one to overcome was the 11-month shelf life requirement and the product being consumable after 18 months of storage. The convenience store chain talked with the Tsukuba Space Center before developing a freeze-drying method for its Karaage-kun line of fried chicken. In August 2018, Space Karaage-kun made it past the initial screening.
After extending its shelf life, the question about how to eat the chicken perplexed the company for a time. While deep-frying in space was possible, the process left the chicken mushy with uneven batter distribution. Regular frying created a crispier texture but brought with it floating crumbs. To solve those issues, Lawson downsized Space Karaage-kun into bite-sized chunks to be eaten straight from the bag.
The fried chicken received its pre-approval status in October 2019, and on Monday, officially became suitable for outer space food. Space Karaage-kun will be on the next mission from Japan to the International Space Station, along with Kaki No Tani rice crackers.