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Sunday, May 12, 2013

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50 Years of NASA’s Space Food

NASA’s Advanced Food Technology Project is responsible for providing space flight crews with a food system that is safe, nutritious, and acceptable to the crew, while balancing appropriate vehicle mass, volume, waste, and food preparation time for exploration missions. For the past 50 years, the methods involved in the preservation process have evolved from pilots eating seed and crackers to allowing for gourmet diets like freeze dried shrimp and meats to be eaten.

John Glenn was America's first man to eat anything in the near weightlessness of Earth orbit. Before that, Yuri Gagarin, the first man on space, experimented by eating three 160 g toothpaste-type tubes serving puréed meat and chocolate sauce for lunch. Glen found the task of eating fairly easy, but found the menu to be limited. Many Mercury astronauts had to endure bite-sized cubes, freeze dried powders, and semiliquids stuffed in aluminum tubes. The astronauts found it unappetizing, experienced difficulties in rehydrating the freeze-dried foods, and did not like having to squeeze tubes. Moreover, freeze-dried foods produced crumbs which could foul instruments.


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