The Evolution Of Space Food: From Bland Puree To Noodles

As soon as NASA began the work of sending humans into space, the question arose: What would they eat once there?

Space food needs to fit several requirements. The food has to be filling, nutrient-dense, and easily portable. The first person to eat in outer space was Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, known for orbiting the earth onboard the Vostok 1 in 1961. Gargarin ate semi-liquid food squeezed out from tubes and chocolate sauce for dessert. The history of space food has been a long and appetizing road, keep reading to trace the evolution.

1962: John Glenn’s apple sauce from a tube and Tang powder

John Glenn consumed apple sauce and pureed vegetables from a toothpaste-like tube while he was onboard Friendship 7 in 1962. He also drank xylose sugar tablets dissolved in water. The artificial drink Tang became popular on NASA flights and generated a myth that it was prepared as a space drink. Tang in space was sealed in a pouch that astronauts inject with water using a needle and then sip the mixture.

1964: Sugar cookies

To satisfy the sweet tooth of Gemini astronauts, they were given cubed sugar cookies that were specially designed to be eaten in a single bite. The cookies were coated in gelatin to prevent crumbs, which could clog electrical systems or air filters. The gelatin coating helped in preserving the flavor, but the astronauts still found their food bland and lacking in texture.

1969: Packaged veggies

The Apolo astronauts were the first to consume hot water and ate their packaged food using a spoon. The astronauts were reportedly served with vegetables, potato scallops, and apple sauce – all out of a package. The meals were individually wrapped, color-coded, and labeled for each day.

1971: Apricot bars on Moon

While the astronauts of Apollo 15worked hard to collect surface material from the moon, they reportedly snacked on apricot bars. They were also introduced to new food like thermostabilized burgers and the food packages were well preserved using sulfate tablets.

1983: Rice pilaf

During the ninth Space Shuttle mission of NASA in 1983, the astronauts were served with rice pilaf, barbecue sauce, and Italian beans along with thermostabilized chocolate pudding. In around 1985, the breadcrumb issue in space was solved by the introduction of flour tortillas, and to further make seasoning easier, they were also given liquid pepper and salt.

2005: Space noodle

Nissin, the Japanese food company produced the first instant ramen noodles in 1958. Decades later, the company delivered a similar product for astronauts under the name “Space Ram.” Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi in 2005 carried the noodles to space for the first time.

In 2017, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule transported Blue Bell ice cream to astronauts living at the International Space Station. How incredible is that?

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