The world's first space chick spent Easter weekend being observed by scientists as part of an experiment aboard shuttle Discovery, an official for sponsor Kentucky Fried Chicken said Saturday.
The 41.8 gram male chick, named Kentucky, broke through its shell at 8:29 Friday night at KFC headquarters less than a week after the historic five-day flight, said KFC Vice President Gregg Reynolds."All the chickens in the experiment appear to be normal through visual examination, but without further analysis any pertinent differences between spacebound chickens and those on Earth are yet to be determined," Reynolds said.
"They will live out their normal lifespan and will be observed throughout that period," he said. "The first space chicken, Kentucky, will be donated to the Louisville Zoo to be put on display later this year."
The chicks were part of an experiment conceived by Purdue University senior John Vellinger, sponsored by KFC and intended to measure the effects of embryo development.
When space shuttle Discovery was launched March 13 it carried an incubator designed by Vellinger containing 32 chicken eggs, the KFC official said. A similar incubator with a control group of 321 eggs was kept on the ground during the mission.
"The two groups of eggs and the chickens which emerged from those eggs will be studied at Purdue by Vellinger, who will graduate in December, and a team of scientific advisors from Tulane, Boston University and Purdue," Reynolds said. "Eventually, the team will issue a paper assessing the results of the pioneering effort."
Vellinger's first experiment was lost aboard the ill-fated flight of the shuttle Challenger.