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Astronaut dessert redefines 'space chimps'

Endangered Species Chocolate "Chimpanzee" bars will launch aboard space shuttle Discovery on February 12. (collectSPACE)
January 12, 2009 — One month from today, astronauts will launch to the International Space Station (ISS) taking eight endangered species chimpanzees with them on the space shuttle. The apes are not part of a biological study, as NASA launched nearly 50 years ago, but are rather for dessert.

You see, the chimps are actually chocolate and by eating them, the astronauts are helping to save real life chimps here on Earth.

The bar-shaped "Supreme Dark Chocolate" candy, which is produced by Endangered Species Chocolate of Indiana features a picture of a chimpanzee on its wrapper.

"Every single bar has printed on it '10% of net profits [are] donated to help support species, habitat and humanity'", explained Renée Sweany, who manages public relations and advertising for the company. "Our biggest goal is to raise money that we can then give back to organizations that are focused on conservation."

It was a "very cool surprise" Sweany told collectSPACE when they learned their chocolates were space-bound.

"United Space Alliance contacted us looking for stores where they could purchase the bars," she recalled. "They received the request and contacted us to let us know."

United Space Alliance, which prepares the "crew choice" pantry aboard the shuttle, packed the eight bars for flight.

The snack request was made by the crew of STS-119, who will fly the 14-day mission aboard shuttle Discovery.

The bars were packed as one of their desserts. That the candy helps the chimpanzees and other animals was only a bonus.

The crew plans to share the chocolates with the crew of the International Space Station, including Sandy Magnus, who is known to have an affinity for chocolate. She will return to Earth with Discovery after three months aboard the outpost.

In addition to returning Magnus to the ground and bringing her replacement, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to the station, the mission will deliver and install a new truss segment as well as the fourth and final set of solar array wings to provide power to the ISS.

Sweany said that everyone at Endangered Species was excited by the upcoming spaceflight. Previously, the most "exotic" location that their chocolates had traveled were to Ivory Coast and Peru, where their all-natural and organic cocoa is grown.

"Nothing compares to actually leaving the Earth," Sweany declared.

This article was updated on February 6, 2009.

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