ESPANOLA, N.M. (KRQE) – An Espanola man working for NASA is sending New Mexico chile to new heights.
New Mexico’s chile is already distributed throughout the country, but now chile from the Espanola Valley is heading for the heavens. Jacob Torres is part of a team of 20 people at NASA in Florida, working on a way to grow vegetables on board the International Space Station.
Torres, originally from Espanola, suggested one of those veggies be an Espanola chile pepper.
“What an honor, what a privilege, and what a great way to represent the Espanola Valley,” said Victor Romero from the Espanola Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The Espanola chile pepper was chosen over Hatch because Torres believes it’s heartier, and would grow faster since it’s from a higher elevation. A chile farmer in Chimayo with over 15 years of experience says Torres is right.
“Overall, the chile from northern New Mexico can be grown anywhere,” said chile farmer Fidel Martinez. said.
Locals are beaming with pride, and believe this could launch New Mexico’s chile industry to even greater heights.
“I think it’s going to open a lot of doors, you know? Hopefully, it grows there in space, and I think everyone will jump into the growing of the chile,” Martinez said.
Right now, the researchers are working to make the plants more viable for a habitat on the International Space Station. The chile will be launched to the ISS in November.