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Thanksgiving…in Space Space

Since 2000, humans have continuously lived and worked on the International Space Station. That means plenty of crew members have celebrated holidays off the Earth.


Although they’re observing the same holidays, they do so in a slightly different way because of the unique environment 250 miles above the Earth.

Consider the differences of living on Earth and in space…


Food scientists must develop foods that will be easier to handle and consume in an environment without gravity. The food must not require refrigeration and also provide the nutrition humans need to remain healthy.


Freeze drying food allows it to remain stable at room temperature, while also significantly reducing its weight.


Did you know that all the food sent to the space station is precooked? Sending precooked food means that it requires no refrigeration and is either ready to eat or can be prepared by simply adding water or by heating. 


The only exception are the fruit and vegetables stowed in the fresh food locker. The food comes in either freeze-dried containers or thermostabilized pouches. If freeze-dried in a vacuum sealed package, the astronauts have a rehydration system in-flight, which they use restore moisture in their food.  If thermostabilized, the packaging is designed to preserve the food similar to canned products, but instead in a flexible, multi-layered pouch.

So what will the space station crew eat this year (2016) for Thanksgiving?

  • Turkey
  • Cherry/Blueberry Cobbler
  • Candied Yams
  • Rehydratable Cornbread Dressing
  • Rehydratable Green Beans and Mushrooms
  • Rehydratable Mashed Potatoes

What are you bringing to Thanksgiving on Earth this year? Treat your family and friends astronaut-style with this cornbread dressing recipe straight out of our Space Food Systems Laboratory…no freeze drying required!


For spaceflight preparation:

Baked dressing is transferred to metal tray and freeze-dried accordingly. One serving of cornbread dressing shall weigh approximately 145 g prior to freeze-drying and 50 g after freeze-drying.

Learn more about our Food Systems Laboratory in this Facebook Live video:

Happy Thanksgiving!

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