How to eat like an astronaut
La La Land’s director Damien Chazelle once again teams up with Ryan Gosling in this year’s big-screen epic First Man, which portrays the riveting story of how NASA planned Neil Armstrong’s efforts to become the first man on the moon.
Many of us have dreamed about being an astronaut — heck, Richard Branson is even launching Virgin Galactic in a bid to give members of the public a chance to go to space, albeit with a hefty price tag — but have you ever wondered what foods you’d be able to eat in orbit?
Since John Glenn became the first American to eat in space in 1962, when he ate applesauce, an astronaut’s diet has adapted and advanced with packaging allowing more and more of Earth’s delights to be taken into space. But what exactly do the spacemen of today choose to eat? While Earth favourites such as pizza, chips, and ice cream aren’t on the menu, here is a list of items that are:
Yes, that’s right; astronauts eat lettuce. In fact, they can even grow their own! The deep plum-red lettuce, which is part of the romaine lettuce family, became the very first plant to be grown on a NASA space mission in 2014 after the crew took vegetable seeds with them and grew their own to eat! While they may not have been able to mix it into a Caesar salad, the crisp texture and sweet flavours on offer from your own harvest are sure to have been a welcome delight.
Our taste buds act differently when we’re in space, with the atmosphere meaning our mouth can’t create a lot of salivae. That has led to spicy foods being an astronaut’s favourite choice due to their powerful flavours taking away any blandness. As well as this, in space, you are likely to suffer from a stuffy nose due to zero gravity. The inclusion of spicy foods can help clear any congestion and allow you to be able to taste your food.
If you have seen a comedy sketch about being in space (think The Simpsons) you’ll likely see their food flying about due to the absence of gravity. However, chocolate-covered nuts are indeed a favourite for astronauts. Whether they prefer to eat them or play with them and make them fly towards their mouth like in the sketches remains to be confirmed…
Once these crustaceans have been dehydrated — and smothered in the spicy sauces as mentioned earlier — this ‘delicacy’ is a popular choice among astronauts. In fact, it’s the most requested packaged food from space crew, with veteran Story Musgrave said to even eat them for breakfast.
Yoghurts are a crucial addition to the menu of those on long space missions with no gravity. This is because it’s rich in calcium and during such missions, an astronaut’s bone mass can decrease by up to 20 per cent. Of course, plain yoghurts aren’t the most popular of choice, but flavours such as peach, raspberry, and strawberry are devoured.
According to NASA, an astronaut’s choice of beverage is similar to what can be expected on Earth. Drinks available include coffee, tea, fruit punches, orange juice, and lemonade. Unfortunately for beer lovers among us, they don’t appear to have made the list!
So, there you have it. How do you think you’d fare on a space diet? Although there is the chance to take some of your favourite foods with you, the above are staple parts of an astronaut’s diet. Of course, it’s still required for them to eat healthily, taking in three meals a day to gain their vitamin intake, meaning that although mealtime isn’t said to be too popular with astronauts, the above will be in abundance in the shuttle!