Has Pesto Ever Been Into Space?

Space shuttle with pesto on-board

Short answer
Yes, the Italian astronaut Franco Malerba took a tube of pesto into space on his 1992 NASA space mission.

Long answer
On July 31, 1992, NASA space shuttle STS-46 blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center on a mission that clocked up 3.3 million miles on its one-week adventure. On board were seven astronauts, including Italy's first astronaut in space, Franco Malerba.

One of the defining stories of the mission was that Malerba was granted permission to take a small tube of pesto on board. It was part of an initiative by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to promote Italian cuisine, and the stunt attracted international attention.

Despite the pesto ultimately going uneaten, the tube was specially designed and prepared to meet the safety standards required for space travel. The sauce was produced by Il Pesto di Pra', a pesto producer located in the very heart of Liguria, where the best basil in the world is grown.

Since the 1992 mission, many astronauts have taken food from their home countries into space to add a touch of familiarity and heritage to their flights. It has proved a poignant way to highlight the connection between food, culture, and the shared human experience, even in the lonely and isolating vastness of space.