Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda is reaching new heights this month, with a journey into outer space. Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers requested to bring this particular Gouda with him on his six-month mission, called PromISSe, which takes off on December 21. On this mission Kuipers will take part in about 30 experiments, covering a range of disciplines from solar research to technology demonstrations.
While at first his request may seem a bit strange, one must remember that the Dutch are famed for their Gouda. And Old Amsterdam Aged Gouda is an award-winning cheese; it has received multiple European gold medals. Astronauts are allowed to request bonus food items to bring along their journey. Kuipers choice was provided by the manufacturer, who found it a great honor to have its product brought beyond our ozone layer.
Getting this Gouda prepared for its long journey was far more complicated than picking up a couple of wedges at the grocery store -- almost as rigorous as what is required of the astronauts. The cheese has to be specially portioned to fit into Kuipers' nine allotted containers and sealed in such a way to keep it fresh for over a year (remember, there are no refrigerators in space). It will then travel from the Netherlands to Michigan, on to Texas, with a last stop in Kazakhstan before it makes its way to the International Space Station in a Russian space freight craft. Once it reaches its final destination, it will be enjoyed and shared with Kuipers' American and Russian colleagues.