Important Features of Space Food

A pile of fresh vegetables on a cutting board

The term “space food” can refer to any type of food eaten by astronauts in the course of human spaceflight. There are no standard dishes for this fare, with most from individual countries being chosen based on what they think will make good meals. 

In general, there are two types: full meals and on-the-go foods. The latter refers to items that can be consumed onboard without preparation and/or utensils. These include bite bags, freeze-dried foods, and even candy bars. Meals may or may not require refrigeration and usually need heating first before consumption (but sometimes it’s more like just preparing some ingredients). Precooked frozen foods such as ready-to-eat meals are very common in spaceflight.

Why do astronauts need it?

A bunch of fruit sitting on top of a wooden cutting board

There are many reasons the use of space food is essential to astronauts, one being that they don’t have time for regular cooking. With the busy schedules experienced onboard a spacecraft, there just isn’t enough time or energy to prepare regular food items during their explorations into outer space.

Of course, your average astronaut does consume regular food when given the chance (it’s kind of like an unwritten rule). But sometimes it’s simpler and more practical to simply rely on pre-cooked/pre-made meals. Also, since nothing spoils in the vacuum of space (at least not quickly), there’s no need to worry about expiry dates either.

How does it help them survive in space?

A bowl of fruit sitting on top of a wooden table

By now, you already know that a spaceship’s conditions are a far cry from your average kitchen or dinner table. Space travel is expensive and the astronauts have to conserve as much energy as possible just so they can survive. This means that food has to be ready for consumption at all times and also requires the least amount of preparation possible.

The benefits of eating food in space

Some perks that come with having access to well-prepared meals include increased morale among astronauts and higher levels of productivity. But aside from these subjective claims, there are hard scientific facts that prove why it’s important for an astronaut to eat well during his or her time on a spacecraft. For one, eating boosts morale onboard. This is the same reason why the standard mealtime is scheduled for each astronaut’s mission onboard a spacecraft. It lets them relax and re-energize themselves after stressful activities or experiments. Aside from this benefit, there also aren’t any scientific studies that link food deprivation to negative consequences in space (at least none of which are known). However, it’s probably still best not to experiment with these kinds of things during an actual human spaceflight.

How to make your space-friendly foods at home

Just like commercial airplane meals, many pre-prepared dishes sold in supermarkets can be used by astronauts for their missions in outer space as granola bars or trail mixes are a great way to boost your energy without spending too much time on preparation. Another good choice is the humble sandwich which can be made lightweight and space-friendly with a few tricks.

To make “sandwiches” that astronauts can eat, it’s best to use freeze-dried items like bread or condiments. You could also prepare sandwiches with vacuum-sealed meats if you’re brave enough not to waste anything from your catch of the day! Otherwise, there are still other options even for those who simply want to experiment at home or try a few interesting recipes before packing them off to work or school. Even canned foods such as canned tuna and sardines taste surprisingly delicious when eaten right out of their containers with no additional seasoning or preparation. They’re a good solution for people who must only rely on the contents of their pantry to get them through the day.

How it contributes to space exploration

In addition to being tasty and convenient, space food also plays an important role in keeping astronauts healthy and productive during their missions which contributes toward advancing science and technology. By eating well-balanced meals while still conserving valuable energy, experts say that astronauts can remain more alert and active even with less sleep time. This is one reason why there’s always a carefully measured amount of snacks available in a spacecraft’s galley area. There’s no need for overweight astronauts when it comes to fighting off fatigue since a balanced diet can go a long way towards maintaining optimum performance in space.

In conclusion, space food is a difficult topic to discuss. It’s not so much the type of food that matters but rather how it will be stored and prepared for consumption. The last thing NASA wants is another incident like when Apollo 13 had their potatoes freeze up on them because they didn’t have enough heating units available in time. To ensure this never happens again, there needs to be more research into what kind of foods need heaters before being consumed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station or any other spacecraft capable of traveling long distances from Earth without risking starvation.

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