Humans or any other living being cannot survive long without food and water. The maximum number of days a person can survive without food and water is somewhere between 8 and 21. The survival can extend to 2 months if the person has an adequate water supply. Coming to this, have you ever thought about what foods can astronauts eat in space? Or what do astronauts eat for dinner? Well, if not then let us begin our space food journey.
1. What is Space Food?
Food items prepared, processed, and stored in necessary conditions for astronauts during their outer space missions are known as space food. These food items are designed and prepared to keep in mind the necessary nutritional requirements of the astronauts in microgravity. Most of these food items are freeze-dried to increase their shelf-life. (See What does it feel like to be in outer space?)
2. What are the different Types of Space Food for Astronauts?
Depending on the nature of food, there are different categories of food items that astronauts can enjoy in space.
- Beverages (B) are freeze-dried drinks like coffee, tea, and flavored drinks (lemonade), which are provided in vacuum-sealed pouches.
- Bread products with extended shelf-life include scones, rolls, and waffles which are prepared specially so that they can be stored for up to 18 months (1 year and 6 months).
- Fresh Foods (FF) items include tortillas, fresh fruits, and vegetables which need to be consumed within 2 days (48 hours) of their arrival in the spacecraft.
- Intermediate Moisture (IM) includes beef jerky and sausages. These food items have some moisture but are not enough to spoil the food immediately.
- Irradiated (I) Meat includes beef that is sterilized with ionizing radiation which prevents the food from degrading.
- Natural Form (NF) includes ready-to-eat food items that are commercially available and can be stored longer, like nuts, granola bars, cookies, etc.
- Thermostabilized (T) food items are heated at high temperatures to destroy enzymes, microorganisms, and pathogens that can spoil the food. For example, canned soups. This process is also known as the retort process.
3. Why is Space Food kept moisture free?
Moisture is known to spoil food on earth and the same is the space case too. Also, not all spacecraft contain a refrigerator to keep their food fresh. To overcome this problem and to increase the shelf-life of food items, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) quick-freeze the food and pack them in a vacuum chamber. This process prevents the development of moisture in the food and keeps it edible for a long time. Compressed food needs less storage space and is easily stored in compact places in space shuttles. (See 18 Fun Facts About Space)
4. What is Quick-freezing?
This freezing is different because normal freezing promotes the growth of ice crystals to keep the food cold and safe. Quick-freezing prevents the formation of ice crystals in the food. This helps in preventing the taste and increases the shelf-life of the food.
5. What was the First Space Food?
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, a Soviet pilot, and cosmonaut was the first human to travel to outer space. He traveled in Vostok 1 capsule and completed one orbit of the earth on 12-April-1961. Before moving to what do astronauts eat for dinner see, the first space food was the chocolate sauce and puréed meat in tubes like toothpaste tubes. Yuri had two servings of the puréed meat and some chocolate during his mission. Also, check out the origin of fried chicken.
6. Who selects Food for Astronauts?
Astronauts get the chance to try their space food long before their launch. They send the information to the International Space Station (ISS) and then their menu is reviewed by a panel of scientists to calculate the nutritional value of the food items selected by them. This process takes place about 8 to 9 months before the launch so that any necessary changes can be done, if necessary. (See What are Egg Roll Wrappers made of?)
7. How long does it take to Prepare Food in Space?
Space food is packed and prepared in such a manner that it hardly takes 5 minutes or even less to prepare it. Check out the 7 metal in microwave mythbusters facts.
8. How do they Eat their Food in Zero-Gravity?
Unlike years ago, nowadays, astronauts can eat their food as they eat it on earth.
- Solid food is already broken before eating so that they can have a complete bite.
- Beverages like coffee or tea are consumed from the straw attached to their container.
- Foods that need to be hydrated are done with small tubes of water in the craft.
- After finishing the meal, tiny tablets are kept inside the empty meal boxes to prevent the growth of any microorganisms. (See What is Revolution and Rotation?)
9. What Foods can Astronauts eat in Space for Breakfast?
Still, finding out what do astronauts eat for dinner? Prolonged exposure to a weightless environment in spacecraft leads to calcium deficiency in astronauts. Therefore, their breakfast must be rich in calcium and vitamin D. Astronauts have 9 options in the cereal to select from for their breakfast. Oatmeal, rice Krispie, Bran Chex, etc. are some available options in the cereals. They can also enjoy coffee or tea. The space coffee is prepared by adding creamer and sugar to it. Astronauts only add water to it. Cinnamon rolls, waffles, and pancakes are some available options too. (See What is Pepperoni made of?)
10. Do the Astronauts eat Supper or Lunch?
For their second meal, they can choose from a few varieties of soup that are prepared with beef, chicken, and mushroom. Astronauts can opt for a multi-course meal also to fulfill their nutritional requirements.
11. What do Astronauts eat for Dinner?
Just like lunch, astronauts can choose from their International Space Station menu a combination of food that will satisfy their hunger and fulfill the nutritional requirements of their bodies. Therefore, it can be fruits, vegetables, prepared meals, and desserts. (See What do People Eat in China?)
12. Do they Eat Pizza in Space?
In 2017, Expedition 53 Crew held a pizza party in which they put together a complete pizza with all toppings and sauces in the spacecraft. Astronauts, however, do not prefer to make pizzas because the base becomes soft and soggy. Also, check out the 21 types of stinky cheese.
13. Do they eat Cakes?
Yes, they do eat cakes in space. They have various options like chocolate fudge, shortcake, chocolate brownie, or yellow cake with chocolate frosting. These food items are pre-packed in such a manner that they do not spoil during their stay in space. Must read what to make with Truffles?
14. What Food items are not for Astronauts?
Besides what foods can astronauts eat in space and all the facilities given to astronauts in terms of their food, there are still some food items that are banned for them in space.
- Alcohol affects their judgment and alertness ability, which is most needed in space.
- Ice cream can crumble when frozen further, which is dangerous in zero gravity.
- Bread is also crumbly and its crumbs can float here and there in the craft. Well of course it is the one item when you wonder what do astronauts eat for dinner.
- Carbonated drinks (soda) can cause discomfort to astronauts because carbon dioxide bubbles stay in the soda because of zero gravity.
- Powdered ingredients (salt, sugar, etc.) are also crumbly and can enter the air vent and cause disruption in the shuttle. Check out the 12 best keto starbucks drinks and food options.
So, today you finally got to know about what do astronauts eat for dinner and what foods can astronauts eat in space. Now, share this information about what do astronauts eat for dinner with your space lover friends and family members. (Also read What is Food Art?)