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Space Food

Space Food

Food: everyone needs it to survive and in space there’s no exception. Let’s take a closer look at what astronauts eat while in space. 

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Since the start of human spaceflight, we’ve worked to improve the taste, texture and shelf life of food for our crews. Our food scientists are challenged with developing healthy menus that can meet all of the unique requirements for living and working in the extreme environment of space.

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Consider the differences of living on Earth and in space. Food scientists must develop foods that will be easier to handle and consume in a microgravity environment. These food products require no refrigeration and provide the nutrition humans need to remain healthy during spaceflight.

Freeze drying food allows food to remain stable at ambient temperatures, while also significantly reducing the weight.

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Fun Facts About Space Food:

Astronauts use tortillas in many of their meals

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Tortillas provide an edible wrapper to keep food from floating away. Why tortillas and not bread? Tortillas make far less crumbs and can be stored easier. Bread crumbs could potentially float around and get stuck in filters or equipment.

The first food eaten by an American astronaut in space: Applesauce

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The first American astronaut to eat in space dined on applesauce squeezed from a no-frills, aluminum toothpaste-like tube. Since then, food technology has cooked up better ways to prepare, package and preserve space fare in a tastier, more appetizing fashion.

All food that is sent to the space station is precooked

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Sending precooked food means that it requires no refrigeration and is either ready to eat or can be prepared simply by adding water or by heating. The only exception are the fruit and vegetables stowed in the fresh food locker.

Salt and pepper are used in liquid form on the International Space Station

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Seasonings like salt and pepper have to be used in liquid form and dispensed through a bottle on the space station. If they were granulated, the particles would float away before they even reached the food.

Food can taste bland in space

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Some people who live in space have said that food is not the same while in microgravity. Some say that it tastes bland, some do not like their favorite foods and some love to eat foods they would never eat on Earth. We believe this phenomenon is caused by something called “stuffy head” This happens when crew member’s heads get stopped up because blood collects in the upper part of the body. For this reason, hot sauce is used A LOT on the space station to make up for the bland flavor.

Astronaut ice cream is not actually eaten on the space station

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Even though astronaut ice cream is sold in many science centers and enjoyed by many people on Earth, it’s not actually sent to the space station. That said, whenever there is space in a freezer heading to orbit, the astronauts can get real ice cream onboard! 

Instead of bowls there are bags and cans

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Most American food is stored in sealed bags, while most Russian food is kept in cans. 

Here’s what the crew aboard the space station enjoyed during Thanksgiving in 2015: 

  • Smoked Turkey
  • Candied Yams
  • Rehydratable Corn
  • Potatoes Au Gratin 
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