The bizarre ways astronauts eat in space will blow your mind

Here are some amazing facts related to how astronauts eat and drink in outer space.

Astronaut food: Space food facts that will blow your mind
© Space Frontiers
Astronaut food: Space food facts that will blow your mind

We all depend on food for comfort, conviviality and of course, survival. Being able to take food to space has undoubtedly been a scientific milestone for humanity. But have you wondered what exactly goes on behind the scenes when it comes to dining in space? What do astronauts eat out there and how?

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Read on and find out about some amazing space food facts from NASAthat will astound you.

Research on astronaut food

Foods flown on space missions by NASA are researched and developed at the Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. At present, scientists there are engaged in developing Advanced Food System (AFS) in order to ensure that astronauts who would travel to the Moon or Mars in the future can have not only nutritious food but hopefully, delicious too.

Senator John Glenn offers some space food for President Bill Clinton to sample in 1998 NASA

First man to eat in space

In 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space and the first man to eat in space. His meal consisted of two portions of pureed meat, stored neatly in toothpaste tube-like containers, which had to be squeezed to be eaten. The next year, John Glenn was America’s first man to eat anything in space.

Astronauts back then were sent away to space with food which were converted into bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders or semi-liquids in aluminium tubes. While this was an easy and effective method, the same couldn’t be said for flavours: they were quite tasteless and astronauts got sick of squeezing food off of tubes.

Space utensils

Astronauts in the Apollo Program became the first first to use utensils in space with the ‘spoon bowl,’ a plastic container that could be opened and food could be eaten out of it with a spoon. This was also the first time that astronauts had hot water with them to rehydrate food to improve taste.

The task of eating in space got a big boost in Skylab, where for the first time, astronauts got the space equivalent of a dining room and table.

Astronaut Loren J. Shriver attempts to eat floating sweets on space shuttle Atlantis  Space Frontiers

Astronauts choose what they eat

At present, NASA crew members go through a food evaluation phase in their preparation period. They taste a variety of foods in rehydratable, thermostabilized, irradiated and natural forms and decide their own menus for the duration of the mission. Astronauts compile their own breakfast, lunch and dinner meal plans.

Once the food is selected about five months before a launch, the shuttle food contractor in Houston gets to work and the foods are packaged and stowed in locker trays, which are later shipped to the space shuttle to go off into space with the astronauts.

Sources used:

NASA: NASA Facts, Space Food

Discover Magazine: ‘First Food in Space: Toothpaste Tubes of Applesauce and Beef’

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