Skip

Fooood In Spaaaaaace
April 3, 2013 8:30 PM   Subscribe

NASA's Space Food Hall of Fame
Today's space food has come a long way since the Mercury Program of the early 1960s. When John Glenn first tried apple sauce from a squeeze tube onboard his Friendship 7 spacecraft in 1962, who could have dreamed that later astronauts would be able to choose from such a wide variety of foods?
See also: Food in Space: Great Photos of Astronaut Meals, from the Early Space Voyages to Today, on io9.

Though Yuri Gagarin had a short trip, he ate a meal of pureed space food from toothpaste-style tubes the day before his flight. The next year, John Glenn was the first person to eat food in space:
Glenn's consumption of applesauce, packed in a tube, and xylose sugar tablets with water, demonstrated that people could eat, swallow, and digest food in a weightless environment.
Project Mercury astronauts had semi-liquids in tubes or dehydrated cubes that would re-hydrate with their saliva, which no one liked. Every single astronaut returned home with un-eaten food, having either evaded or downright lied to their Mission Control CapComs about eating. For the Gemini missions, special bags in which the dehydrated foods could be rehydrated were designed, and the food got better with the later missions.

Food preparation continued to advance with the Apollo missions, as hot water allowed for better rehydration, and spoon-bowl packages made meal-times a bit more normal. The Skylab Workshop continued with culinary progress, featuring a bigger variety of canned foods, and the first use of frozen foods in space and first use of a food-warming device in weightlessness, both which provided their own set of problems.

Food made for modern astronauts is greatly varied, with traditional meals available for every space-going nationality. NASA has a Space Food Systems Laboratory that is responsible for space food and package research and development, and they made a behind-the-scenes video after preparing meals for the 135th and final mission of the US Space Shuttle program.

For more randomness, check out the "space food" tag on Tumblr
posted by filthy light thief (18 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love the strawberry freeze-dried ice cream that you buy at the NASA gift shop in Houston.
posted by shoesietart at 8:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Living near enough to the Air & Space Museum, I've often bought "astronaut ice cream" for people as more-or-less gag gifts. I seem to think it's more funny than anyone else does.

This is really cool stuff. I am constantly fascinated by "portable" foods (previous obsessions with freeze-dried camping food & deviations into MRE's) and space adds a lot more challenges. I don't think it's something too many of us think about.
posted by darksong at 8:45 PM on April 3, 2013


Sigh. As a child living through the Sixties, I adored Space Food Sticks. They weren't that great (like a small, dry Tootsie Roll). But it didn't matter!

I lived on the floor looking up at CBS and Walter Cronkite and watched in rapture at every space launch.

The Space Food Sticks were kind of nasty. But I felt like John Glenn when I ate one! And that was nutrition enough for me.
posted by SPrintF at 9:01 PM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


It turns out that most of flavor is actually smell. When you swallow, vapors from the food rise up into your nose and that's what you "taste".

Which is a problem in freefall: the vapors don't rise. As a result, most food reportedly tastes like cardboard. Astronauts on the Shuttle were permitted a small weight allowance to take personal belongings, and a common "personal belonging" was hot sauce, to put on the food, to make it actually taste like something.

...or so I've heard.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:40 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


most food reportedly tastes like cardboard

anti-eponysterical? sorry
posted by grajohnt at 12:00 AM on April 4, 2013


Not yet mentioned*: John Young's corned beef sandwich.

Apologies if the story is mentioned in one of your many delicious links
posted by ShutterBun at 12:32 AM on April 4, 2013


Is that Vodka in a tube? Nice.
posted by Lizard at 2:47 AM on April 4, 2013


@Chocolate Pickle

Here is a photo of a bottle of Sriracha chilli sauce on the ISS
posted by pixie at 3:04 AM on April 4, 2013


Borscht in a tube? That's how you lose the space race.

Regarding the smell/taste thing, I read somewhere about how there was a major lack of smell in these space stations compared to Earth, and smell was something the astronauts unexpectedly used to pine for. Apparently the smelliest things they had were some lemon hand wipes, and whenever a guy was about to use one he'd put out a shout and the rest would all gather round for a hit.
posted by colie at 4:15 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I thought the smell thing was less about vapors "rising" than about the fact that in space you have a permanently stuff nose because your sinuses don't drain?

But my new thing these days is freeze-dried everything. Target sells these freeze dried peas, corn, and edamame, alongside the apples, strawberries, mangoes... I munch 'em down like they're Fritos, guilt free! And my toddler loves them too.

Thank you astronauts, for teaching us to freeze-dry foods...
posted by OnceUponATime at 4:56 AM on April 4, 2013


Sigh. As a child living through the Sixties, I adored Space Food Sticks. They weren't that great (like a small, dry Tootsie Roll). But it didn't matter!


To be washed down with Tang, of course!
posted by tommasz at 5:15 AM on April 4, 2013


As a child living through the Sixties, I adored Space Food Sticks. They weren't that great (like a small, dry Tootsie Roll). But it didn't matter!

Lord, yes. The chocolate ones were abysmal, with even less chocolate-ness than a Tootsie Roll (which, let's be honest, tastes only tangentially like chocolate) The peanut butter Space Food Sticks, though, were not so bad.

I'd play with my Major Matt Mason while chomping on Space Food Sticks. Happy days...
posted by Thorzdad at 5:40 AM on April 4, 2013


That's it, I need me some freeze-dried icecream. CRAVINGS.
posted by Theta States at 6:06 AM on April 4, 2013


The best thing about the freeze-dried ice cream is the way it explodes into a bajillion white pieces when you bite into it. At the Wallops Island NASA facility where I bought mine, there was a prominent sign on the display advising "ICE CREAM MUST BE OPENED OUTDOORS."

Space food sticks? I actually liked the caramel flavored ones. Guess I was too young to be freaked out by the weird, slightly gritty Tootsie-Roll (TM) texture of the things.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:01 AM on April 4, 2013


Theta States: if you're serious about the freeze-dried icecream, memail me your address.....
posted by easily confused at 10:09 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Theta States: if you're serious about the freeze-dried icecream, memail me your address.

Wait, what? Do you make it? :)
Is it better than the stuff Mountain Equipment Co-Op sells?
posted by Theta States at 12:05 PM on April 4, 2013


My mind is racing, "do I dare given my address out to a random person on the internet, in the hopes they might send me astronaut icecream in the mail???"
posted by Theta States at 12:23 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Theta: I work at the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum, and can get it with my employee discount. (think of this offer as an extra, somewhat-late Quonsmas present!)
posted by easily confused at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


« Older Take a Left off WebKit onto Blink   |   MOOCs of Hazard Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post