Dining, Micro-G Style

It is a remarkable achievement that we are able to travel beyond our blue sky into the vast dark frontier of space.  To be given an opportunity to embark on such a trip would no doubt be exhilarating.  There is so much to be excited about, save, perhaps, for the fare.

astronaut

They don't have a food court on board the ISS. Image by NASA/© Getty Images, Stone.

While it is obvious the goal of a space mission isn’t even remotely related to enjoying good food, it is undeniable that space cuisine is most definitely an underwhelming experience.

early space food

Above not served by attractive shuttle steward or stewardess. Image from: http://www.thespacebuff.com/current/problem-food-tastes-lousy-in-space/.

In the early 60s, space food was as bland and bare as it could be.  A typical meal was comprised of bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders, and tubes of semi-liquids.  This has changed dramatically over the next 30 years.  Freeze-dried foods became easier to rehydrate, and a host of new food items became available for astronauts including apple juice, chicken, some vegetables, and pudding.  Now, with the availability of on-board hot water, refrigerators, freezers, fastened tables and chairs, and special trays, dining in microgravity is no longer depressing, and actually bears some semblance to dining on Earth.  More food items are now included, and crew members can even ask for a personalised menu.

Squeeze and slurp.

Squeeze and slurp. Image from: minyanville.com.

However, on long-term missions that span over several years, it is difficult to provide fresh, variable menus for the crew.  Extending food shelf life by radiating it to eliminate bacteria is a proven technique; however, the limitations of this method in terms of potential health risks pose a slight hurdle for space food scientists.  On the other hand, there is substantial research going into hydroponic growth labs for vegetables and fruits.  In fact, NASA claims that on-craft gardening may even be possible with select crops like spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and some herbs.

Insignificant and irrelevant as it might sound, eating well in space is a subject that garners more attention than many may believe.

Hot water eggs.  Let me get your cutlery and scissors.

Scrambled eggs - minor surgery required. Image from: thefutureschannel.com.

As enticing as rehydrated steaks sound, I’m quite content just exploring the different culinary frontiers here on Earth.

Sources:  NASA  |  NASA HumanSpaceFlight  |  Wikipedia

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2 responses to “Dining, Micro-G Style

  1. Pingback: Instant Noodles in the Final Frontier « Gluttonize

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