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Space Food

Imagine going camping for over a week with several of your close friends. 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 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. Preparation varies with the food type. Some foods can be eaten in their natural form, such as brownies and fruit. Other foods require adding water, such as macaroni and cheese or spaghetti. Of course, an oven is provided in the space shuttle and the space station to heat foods to the proper temperature. There are no refrigerators in space, so space food must be stored and prepared properly to avoid spoilage, especially on longer missions.

A Russian Progress space vehicle brings food and other supplies to the International Space Station.John Glenn offers a sample of space food to President Clinton.Shuttle commander Brian Duffy sips on a space drink before launching on mission STS-92.
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Condiments are provided such as ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. Salt and pepper are available but only in a liquid form. This is because astronauts can't sprinkle salt and pepper on their food in space. The salt and pepper would simply float away. There is a danger they could clog air vents, contaminate equipment or get stuck in an astronaut's eyes, mouth or nose.

Astronauts eat three meals a day - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nutritionists ensure the food they eat provides them with a balanced supply of vitamins and minerals. Calorie requirements differ for astronauts. For instance, a small woman would require only about 1,900 calories a day, while a large man would require about 3,200 calories. There are also many types of foods an astronaut can choose from such as fruits, nuts, peanut butter, chicken, beef, seafood, candy, brownies, etc... Drinks range from coffee, tea, orange juice, fruit punches and lemonade.

Astronaut Richard A. Searfoss, STS-90 mission commander, sorts out food on the mid deck of Space Shuttle Columbia.Expedition Two Commander Yuri Usachev prepares food in the space station's galley.Expedition Two Flight Engineer James Voss with two apples.
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As on Earth, space food comes in packages that must be disposed. Astronauts must throw their packages away in a trash compactor inside the space shuttle when they are done eating. Some packaging actually prevents food from flying away. The food packaging is designed to be flexible, easier to use, as well as maximize space when stowing or disposing food containers.

The Expedition One crew balance oranges on their fingers.
Why do astronauts eat tortillas instead of bread?
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Space Food Recipes
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Check Out Some Videos...
Learn what it will take to feed astronauts on long term space exploration missions.
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See how astronauts eat in space.
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Check out the assortment of food available for astronauts and how it is packaged.
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The Expedition One and STS-97 crews share a meal aboard the space station inside the Zvezda Servce Module.
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Related Links
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Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 11/25/2003
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