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Teaching From Space:
Space Food Hall of Fame
Results of the voting for the Space Food Hall of Fame
It was a tight race, but M&Ms received the most votes in the Space Food Hall of Fame contest. Skylab Food was a close second followed by the powdered orange drink Tang.

Voting Results Chart
Space Food
Today's space food has come a long way since the Mercury Program of the early 1960s. When John Glenn first tried apple sauce from a squeeze tube onboard his Friendship 7 spacecraft in 1962, who could have dreamed that later astronauts would be able to choose from such a wide variety of foods?

Space foods have evolved from primitive pastes or cubes to fully cooked, "thermostabilized" entrees similar to the military's MREs (meals ready-to-eat). Along the way, NASA scientists and astronauts have tried some interesting foods and technologies. So what's your favorite entry in the "Space Food Hall of Fame?"
John Glenn's Apple Sauce
John Glenn in space   Sometimes you get points just for being first. By all accounts, this earliest U.S. space food was not very appetizing, but it did help establish that astronauts could safely have a meal in space. To eat his snack, Glenn had to squeeze apple sauce from an aluminum tube. With this simple act, the first American to orbit the earth proved it would be possible to keep astronauts fed during long space flights. For the rest of the Mercury Program missions, astronauts would continue to experiment with new food items.
Tang image
Tang® is a registered trademark of Kraft
Foods, Inc., and is used with permission.

Although many people (wrongly) believe NASA invented Tang®, the powdered orange drink mix does have a history that goes hand-in-hand with U.S. spaceflight.

Tang was originally made by General Foods in 1957, but its popularity reached new heights when it was chosen to fly with John Glenn on Friendship 7 and on later Gemini Program missions.

Now made by Kraft Foods, Tang® is still going strong, with over 1 billion dollars in annual sales worldwide. Today, powdered drink mixes are still used onboard the ISS; they come in Mylar drink bags with special valves for rehydrating without leaking.

Tang® TV Commercial (1966)
Tang Commercial Image
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The Apollo "Spoon Bowl"
The Apollo Spoon Bowl   The "spoon bowl" of the Apollo Program broke new ground for space cuisine. No longer limited to squeezing solids and pastes directly into the mouth, astronauts had at least a few of the comforts of home: warm food rehydrated with a hot water "gun" and real utensils with which to eat. Fears of food floating off the spoon and fouling equipment were unfounded. The moisture content of the food made it stick to the spoon, and thus a new age of polite dining was launched onboard U.S. space missions.
Space Food Sticks
Space Food Sticks   When NASA wanted to expand on the solid foods consumed during the Mercury and Gemini programs, they looked to Pillsbury food scientists to come up with a high-energy alternative to what was then the almost universally despised standard: gelatin-covered cubes. The "Space Food Stick" eventually made its way onto the third Skylab mission, but not before it became a pop culture icon and staple of NASA and museum gift shops. The Space Food Stick is considered by many to be the forerunner of today's energy bar.
Space Food Sticks TV Commercials
Warning: Clicking any of the links below will open a web page that is not under NASA control. NASA is not responsible for the information or links you may find there, nor for the information collection practices of non-NASA sites. These links are provided as a convenience and are not an endorsement by NASA.
Space Food Sticks Link to YouTube
Space Food Sticks image with link to YouTube
Space Food Sticks image with link to YouTube
The Skylab Food System
Skylab Food System Image
The Skylab Program was a quantum leap in space dining. The goal of the Skylab food system was to balance two things: the need for rigorous scientific experiments about the effects of spaceflight on the human body, and the need to make space food appetizing. In the relative roominess of the Skylab module, food scientists were able to try out a new food tray complete with heating elements and a collapsible drink bottle. Skylab also had a refrigerator and a freezer, and stirrups to allow floating astronauts to "sit" down together for a meal. Skylab had almost all the amenities of a terrestrial kitchen, even though it was orbiting more than 200 miles above the earth.
Astronaut Ice Cream
Freeze dried ice cream image   Just like other space food products, some items develop a following after their life at NASA. Freeze-dried ice cream, or "Astronaut Ice Cream," only flew in space one time aboard Apollo 7. The NASA process for making freeze-dried foods however, has been an important "spinoff" technology that has been used to create novelty "Astronaut" and camp foods for years. If you visit a science or aerospace museum just about anywhere in the world, chances are you will see Astronaut Ice Cream in the gift shop, wrapped in a shiny foil package. So despite its discouraging start, freeze-dried ice cream has managed to travel the globe!
Space Shuttle Food System
Space Shuttle Food System Image
The Space Transportation System (STS), or Space Shuttle Program, presented new challenges and opportunities for NASA food scientists. Like Gemini and Apollo spacecraft, the space shuttle made water while generating electricity from its fuel cells. This water could be used to rehydrate food, saving a great deal of weight at liftoff.

Shuttle astronauts didn't have quite as much room for meals as their Skylab counterparts. Instead of a dining room table, each shuttle astronaut had a food tray to strap to their leg if needed. They ate from pouches or other containers held to the food tray by Velcro. Shuttle astronauts actually picked their menus before going into space; they would work with food scientists at NASA's Johnson Space Center to develop meals that were nutritionally balanced and would give them enough energy to complete their important work.

Shuttle crews could choose from a variety of "thermostabilized" (heat processed), rehydratable and natural-form foods, giving them one of the most diverse menus available in the history of spaceflight. Although their meals may have varied, all shuttle astronauts had one thing in common: they became experts with their handy pair of food scissors to open the packages of food!
Dining at the International Space Station (ISS)
ISS Dining Image
The International Space Station (ISS) has already hosted astronauts and cosmonauts from more than a dozen different countries, so meals there can take on a truly international flavor. However, the U.S. and Russia are the primary partners for this program, and the food system for the ISS is a joint venture between these two countries.

In addition to the U.S. food items similar to those from the shuttle era, the ISS now has a wide array of Russian foods including tvorog (a sweet Russian cottage cheese with nuts), borsch (a soup made from beets), beef with barley (kind of like a meatloaf) and sturgeon (a fish). Many of the Russian items come in cans that can be heated by a special warmer. Astronauts and cosmonauts eat at a special fold-down table where their food items are secured with Velcro™ or bungee cords.

Unlike the space shuttle, the ISS creates power from large solar cells that turn sunlight into energy. Without water-producing fuel cells, there is less emphasis on rehydratable foods, and more foods are taken or shipped to the space station in thermostabilized, or "heat and eat," form.
Candy Coated Chocolates
Candy Coated Chocolates in Space image
First flown on the space shuttle in 1981, M&M's® chocolate candies have been a staple ever since. Also known as "candy coated chocolates" in NASA jargon (NASA does not endorse commercial products), these sweets have flown in space more than 130 times. Noted for their ability to stay in one piece in very extreme conditions, they have been a favorite for acrobatic microgravity dining feats. Astronaut Shannon Lucid spent 179 days aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1996. While orbiting the earth, she was asked by a reporter, "What do you miss? What would you really like?" Lucid, having just finished her last bag of candy coated chocolates, famously remarked, "I would really like some M&M's®."
27.01.14 13:22

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