When it comes to astronauts eating in space, many people wonder how comparable it is to an Earthly diet. Well, there are plenty of similarities, but there are also plenty of differences. Eating is space is definitely something one needs to get used to, if they plan on being an astronaut. Unfortunately, no one who goes on a space shuttle is going to be able to take their mom’s home cooking with them.
But, that doesn’t mean astronauts don’t get to actually enjoy what they eat in space. It wasn’t always that way - some of the first space missions focused on nutrient-dense foods, so astronauts could reach a daily calorie intake of around 2,000. As long as the nutrients were there, taste and enjoyment didn’t necessarily matter.
Today, things have become a bit more sophisticated, and a bit more centered on the emotional and mental well being of the astronauts, as well as their physical state. Packing nutrient-dense foods in aluminum tubes is one thing, and it can pack a nutritional punch, depending on what the food actually is. But, can you imagine eating nothing but food from a tube through a straw for months at a time?
To improve the mood and motivation of the astronauts, food advancements were necessary, and from the mid-1960s to today, scientists and researchers continue to work on those advancements. They may not have yet come up with a way for astronauts to take ‘mom’s cooking’ with them, but it’s much easier for them to take some of their favorite foods on board, like cookies, brownies, fresh fruit, etc. Food is actually prepared in a more similar fashion as it is on earth, too. Most food eaten in space today either needs to be hydrated with hot water, or can simply have water added, and be cooked in the oven on board.
While eating in space still may not be the same as enjoying food on earth, it continues to improve and become more ‘normal’ for the astronauts involved. There’s no doubt these advancements will continue for years to come.
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