How do you make meals more appetizing and manageable when you’re orbiting above the planet? The engineering behind space food and drink is continuing to overcome some very unique challenges.
When we talk about aerospace engineering and manufacturing, we mostly think of the big things like rockets, rovers, drones, etc., but anyone in the industry can tell you that aerospace product and technology development is a diverse and dynamic industry. When we’re attempting to better understand our world and our galaxy, we need powerful propulsion, transportation, and life sustaining technology to help us reach new heights, but we also need the essential yet overlooked items and innovations that make matters bearable while we’re up there.
The Clever Engineering Of Space Food
If you want to actually enjoy a meal, snack, or drink while in orbit, it’s going to take some clever engineering, unique designs, and specialty ingredients to make it feel like you’re close to home. Though most of us think of freeze-dried food cubes and tubes of favored paste when we think of astronaut food, the amenities that the crew of the ISS currently enjoy and may soon have access to have come a long way.
Meals Fifty Years In The Making
Astronauts can still enjoy a lot of the foods we enjoy here are on Earth—give or take a few modifications and substitutes. For the last fifty years, NASA employees have been working on the challenge of developing space food that eliminates the issue of crumbs, flakes, drips and stray pieces floating out of control, is still easy to swallow, and tastes like something from home. The first two Astronauts to try out some of the flagship cuisine actually caught some flack for smuggling a corned beef sandwich aboard—which Congress saw as sneer to the space food that took millions of dollars to develop.
Cocktails And Cheese Burgers In Orbit
Since then, NASA and other organizations have made it possible to dine on pasta, shrimp cocktail, grits, sushi, candy, and even cheese burgers—usually made with a tortilla in place of a bun and cheese paste in place of the traditional slice. Scientists and product engineers are continuing to innovate and improve.
One of the latest examples comes in the form of zero gravity cocktail glasses, made with special groves to help control the unpredictable movement of liquid in a microgravity environment. The design would let an astronaut enjoy the scent of a drink—something beverage pouches don’t easily allow—while still retaining the substance. Now that there’s a 3D printer aboard the ISS, that capability could expand what astronauts are able to enjoy.
Did you know that space food and drink has evolved the way in which it has? Comment and share what you think.