The Culture and Science of Space Food

Cultural Favorites Among Astronauts

 

(Photo Courtesy of NASA)

Chinese

In October 2003, the People’s Republic of China commenced their first manned space flight. The astronaut, Yang Liwei, brought along with him and ate specially processed yuxiang pork (鱼香肉丝), Kung Pao chicken (宫保鸡丁), and Babao rice (simp: 八宝饭; trad: 八寶飯), along with Chinese herbal tea. Food made for this flight and the subsequent manned flight in 2007 has been commercialized for sale to the mass market.

Korean

In April 2008, South Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, was a crew member on the International Space Station and brought a special version of Korea’s national dish, kimchi. It took three research institutes several years and millions of dollars to create a version of the fermented cabbage dish that was suitable for space travel.

Jewish

In June 2008, Gregory Chamitoff brought bagels into space for the first time. He was on STS-124 for ISS Expedition 17, and brought with him 18 sesame seed Montreal-style bagels from his cousin’s bakery.

Processing

 

(Tube of Russian Borsht from Soviet Program)

Designing food for consumption in space is difficult. Foods must meet a number of criteria to be considered fit for space; first, the food must be physiologically appropriate, specifically, it must be nutritious, easily digestible, and palatable. Second, the food must be engineered for consumption in a zero gravity environment. As such, the food should be light, well packaged, quick to serve, and easy to clean up (foods that tend to leave crumbs, for example, are ill-suited for space). Finally, foods must require a minimum of energy expenditure throughout their use, i.e., they should store well, open easily, and leave little waste behind.

Carbonated drinks have been tried in space, but are not favored due to changes in burping caused by microgravity.[13] Coca-Cola and Pepsi were first carried on STS-51-F in 1985. Coca-Cola has flown on subsequent missions in a specially-designed dispenser that utilizes BioServe Space Technologies hardware used for biochemical experiments. Space Station Mir carried cans of Pepsi in 1996.- (Wikepedia)

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