Day 1: To Infinity and Beyond
The possibility of (and even need for) space travel for us regular human beings doesn’t seem so far fetched nowadays. With the rise of climate change, space tourism, the potential human colonization of Mars and the beginnings of space commercialization, the black night sky no longer feels so untouchable.
Not to mention, we have — especially in recent years — produced a trove of movies about surviving against impossible odds in the vast, open unknown. And that is why, dear friends, in the event that any of us get launched into space for whatever reason, I have subjected myself to the astronaut’s diet here on our great Earth, so you know what to expect if you find yourself trying to chow down in microgravity.
How do astronauts eat?
NASA compares eating in space to “going camping for more than a week with several of your close friends.” Here’s what that means: “You would make sure you have plenty of food and the gear to cook and eat it with. The food would have to be stored properly and be nonperishable to avoid spoilage. After finishing your meal, or at the end of your camping trip, you would then stow all your gear and dispose of your trash properly just before the ride home. Astronauts basically do the same thing when they go to space,” NASA notes.
While some foods can be eaten as is, like brownies or fruit (but only within the first couple days of launch), a large portion of an astronaut’s diet consists of freeze-dried food, aka food that can sit in a container for pretty much ever. To eat, all you have to do is add water.
Freezing and removing water from foods that are basically ready to eat not only grants them an incredibly long shelf life, but it also keeps meals lightweight, which is why freeze-dried foods are perfect for travel and minimizing storage weight when you are trying to launch a space shuttle.
While I couldn’t get the exact food they eat aboard the International Space Station (ISS), I did acquire a whole lot of freeze-dried camping food.
After all, I am pretty much camping. In space. On Earth.
Here we go.