Space fever has gripped Papa Johns. The company has launched a space-inspired menu in select countries.

Touted as the "world's first space-inspired pizza," Papa Johns is adding chorizo as the topping to its space-flavored new "Planet Chorizo" range, which will comprise pizzas, Papadia and rolls.

"Papa Johns is a brand that is synonymous with delicious flavor experiences," said Jo Blundell, vice president of international marketing at Papa Johns. "So, our new space-inspired chorizo pizza range and intergalactic marketing campaign will take our fans on an epic taste journey into totally new dimensions."

Why chorizo though?

Chorizo is the world's furthest-traveled sausage, Papa Johns said. It made the journey in 1998 when Spanish astronaut Pedro Duque of the European Space Agency (ESA) packed a León chorizo with him for his spaceflight onboard the space shuttle Discovery. He had shared the meal with his crew mates.

Also, spicy meats like chorizo are favored by astronauts.

"Spicy flavors like chorizo have long been a favorite space food among hungry astronauts, which is why it has enjoyed such a rich space heritage," Chris Welch, former vice president of the International Aeronautical Federation and self-titled "spaceologist" said.

Microgravity in space does not allow scents to flow to the nose, which makes food taste insipid compared to on Earth. Therefore, spicy food like shrimp cocktails or chorizo is popular among astronauts.

There is another factor that links chorizo to space.

"But surprisingly, as recent evidence has revealed, its flavors and distinct aromas could really be considered out of this world — with traces of the same aromatic compound thought to be found in both space and chorizo," Welsh said.

Welsh is referring to the evidence that carbon compounds found in the drying process of paprika, an ingredient that gives chorizo its signature red color, may also be present in space. This might explain why astronauts have reportedly smelled grilled meat on a spacewalk.

"At first glance, one might not automatically associate chorizo pizzas with space," Welch told "By making this unexpected link, though, Papa Johns' is stimulating people's curiosity, and if they dig down they can learn about not only the (non-space) chemistry of food but also the space environment, human spaceflight, space science and space exploration."

The space-inspired menu can be tasted in China, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Poland, Germany and select Latin America this autumn.

Presently, there is a trend to make connections between seemingly unrelated things with space.

"It says a lot about the increasingly mainstream popularity of space," Welch said.

"Recently, we have seen a global soda brand choose to link its latest drink to space, and now a pizza brand is doing the same. Hopefully, it's just the start of the increasing opportunities for the promotion of space and its use to popularize and educate people about the many benefits of space activities and the wonders of the universe," the spaceologist added.

NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless floats above the Earth without a tether during a spacewalk outside the space shuttle Challenger in 1984. NASA