By Karen Morfitt

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4)– The heat is on for Colorado students competing in a national culinary challenge for NASA. Grandview High School and Eaglecrest High school both have teams participating in the HUNCH program- High School Students United with NASA to Create Hardware.

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Alli Westover, who is based out of the Johnson Space Center, is the director.

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“There’s always the question of what kind of new things could we send up food wise for the astronauts,” she said.

Westover helped create the challenge that tasks students with creating a dish that can be packaged for space travel, follows strict nutritional guidelines and is still full of flavor.

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Jasmine Elej is a senior at Grandview High School and a veteran of the program.

“When you’re in space, your blood doesn’t regulate through your body correctly and it kind of makes you feel like you’re sick all the time and you can’t taste the spice very easily,” she said.

Following this year’s theme, both teams made ethnic dishes. Elej’s team from Grandview chose a lentil curry, while the team from Eaglecrest choose a Japanese dish.

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(credit: NASA)

Both are now perfecting their recipes but before they are in the kitchen, their teacher Mary Anderson said they have to hit the books.

“We start the program in September and we start learning about physiology and micro gravity and what that means,” said Anderson.

An intimidating topic for some but Anderson says it’s not just math majors and engineers who are signing up.

“I think that’s the really special thing about the program there are no limitations in terms of who can contribute,” Anderson said.

The top 10 teams will go to the Johnson Space Center for the final competition where one dish will be picked for the next space mission.

It will be processed and packaged for space and the astronauts try to send a review from their home on the International space station.

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“That would be amazing I don’t know how to explain how it would feel,” Elej said.

Karen Morfitt