A dish of stir-fried holy basil, or pad kaprao, sent into the atmosphere using a high-altitude balloon in an experiment in Nakhon Sawan province balloon landed on the same day, but the famous Thai street food was gone.

The launch is considered Thailand’s first use of a high-altitude balloon in a space experiment by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA). It involved the famous Thai dish and soared 35 kilometres into the stratosphere.

According to GISTDA, the balloon returned safely to the ground. It was found about 200 metres away from the Global Positioning System (GPS) point in tambon Nong Krot, Banphot Phisai district, Nakhon Sawan Province.

When researchers arrived, they found a box containing the pad kaprao dish was opened with the adhesive tape removed and that part of the contents had disappeared, however the rice was still intact.  A sign on the box stating “reward for return’’ apparently ignored.

The researchers did not elaborate on pad kaprao’s disappearance but will continue to perform high-altitude experiments.

Amarin Pimnoo, a GISTDA engineer and head of the National Space Exploration project, said the experiment was designed to study the effects of high altitudes on nutrients.

He said the dish was chosen for the experiment because it is delicious and easy to cook at a cheap cost, while noting that all kinds of Thai dishes should be studied in space.

With Thai food becoming more internationally popular, it is possible that it can be developed as space food, Mr Amarin said.

“Is our Pad Kaprao edible in space? Will any of the nutrients be destroyed or will they improve? Let’s wait for it,” he said, adding high-altitude balloons have vast potential.

“We did send balloons into the sky but sending balloons high into the atmosphere for space science has never taken place in Thailand,” he said. “It is the country’s first and marks the beginning of the space experiment platform. It can lead to new ideas and innovations.”

Follow this link for a video of the launch!