What's Up with Space Food? | Summary and Q&A

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November 29, 2023
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Today I Found Out
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What's Up with Space Food?

TL;DR

Astronauts have come a long way from eating squeeze tube and freeze-dried food, experiencing improvements in taste, variety, and technology in space food over the years.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why didn't astronauts eat gift shop astronaut food like freeze-dried strawberries or ice cream during missions?

Astronauts didn't eat gift shop astronaut food during missions because the crumbs would float and cause problems in the spacecraft. These novel treats were never part of the astronauts' actual meal plans.

Q: What were some popular food items on space missions?

Some popular food items included shrimp cocktail, bacon cubes, dehydrated meals, M&M's, cheddar cheese, and wet-packed dishes like pot roast and spaghetti. However, astronauts' taste preferences could change in space due to microgravity's effect on the sense of taste.

Q: How did space food technology improve over time?

Space food technology evolved with advancements such as the introduction of the spoon bowl, which allowed astronauts to eat more easily and enjoy a greater variety of food. The inclusion of hot water supply improved the rehydration of freeze-dried food. Wet packs and extended shelf life bread products also enhanced the dining experience.

Q: Are astronauts still limited in their food choices in space?

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have a wide selection of food, including beverages, fresh foods, rehydratable items, natural form foods, and thermally stabilized meals. They have access to an 8-day cycle menu and can bring additional items as long as they meet specific requirements.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Before humans went to space, scientists were concerned about the effects of microgravity on eating and digestion. They wondered if astronauts could swallow or digest food properly in space.

  • Early space missions, like Yuri Gagarin's orbit in 1961, used pureed meat or chocolate in toothpaste-style tubes. Drinking vessels were useless in microgravity, and loose food crumbs posed risks to the spacecraft.

  • As technology advanced, space food improved, with the introduction of freeze-dried food, wet packs, and improved rehydration methods. The variety of food options expanded, and some luxuries like ice cream were even included in the menu on Skylab.

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