Have you listened to the joke about the astronaut who bought foodstuff poisoning? Most likely not, and for great cause. It is because this sort of an function has honestly by no means transpired. To date, no astronaut has at any time gotten a foodstuff-borne illness in space.
“At NASA, we basically have a greater microbiological conventional as opposed to most firms in the basic meals sector,” suggests Xulei Wu, a NASA foods scientist and meals program manager for the Worldwide Space Station. In other words and phrases, NASA is a stickler about food stuff protection and storage when it will come to space journey.
To cut down the threat of likely illness, all foodstuff products and solutions sent to the ISS should undertake rigorous tests. If a foods fails the test, all those items are straight away thrown out of the running to become freeze-dried astronaut chow. In contrast, a productive dish has to be the two protected to try to eat, and able to present a large amount of nourishment in a single serving.
What’s within an astronaut’s pantry?
Having said that an astronaut’s eating plan, even though surely rigorous, is not necessarily a bland one particular.
On any given working day, the Global House Station’s pantry-model dining set up has about 200 dishes an astronaut can pick to consume. This freeze-dried buffet accounts for about 70-75 percent of all the crew’s meals. The relaxation mainly comes from crew-precise menu food—each astronaut is ready to make a type of culinary wishlist, and request certain meals or beverages they want for the duration of their mission.
Even so, quite a few of these admirer favorites could not end up making it to the station in time for an astronaut’s stay, and in some situations, at all. From output all the way to transportation, it normally takes pretty a prolonged time for food to get accepted and then loaded onto a rocket. Even then, as soon as meals will make it into orbit, it could just take a long time prior to it’s consumed by a peckish astronaut who has a craving for their most loved snack.
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“We do not have a cargo car to go there every 7 days to send what they want,” states Wu. “Therefore we have to pre-pack their food stuff and load all the foods on cargo motor vehicles in advance of the crew member even launches.”
As space vacation will become even a lot less of a distant fact, NASA at some point needs to perform on increasing much better processing and packaging systems to make meals last as very long as feasible.
But transportation aside, there are some food items that are presently banned on the space station—and the explanations why may perhaps surprise you.
In our houses, these small scraps are usually categorized as an annoyance and mess alternatively than a genuine problem. But the moment you’ve still left the protection of Earth’s orbit, the petite particles are regarded as an occupational hazard.
Crumbs are labeled Foreign Object Debris (FOD), or any item that could cause damage to a craft or technique. NASA suggests that these wayward particles could interfere with mission machines, be inhaled by crew users and in some cases, float into their eyes.
But fortunately, this doesn’t necessarily mean that astronauts need to go with no crumbly meals (which is a ton of food stuff) fully. For example, alternatively of usual bread merchandise, like rolls or biscuits, that simply break apart and crumble, NASA’s foods lab says it’s been sending alternative selections to the station.
“The tortilla is super well known. It’s not definitely a leavened bread, but it variety of serves a [similar] goal,” states Wu. “It’s functional, but tortillas don’t crumble like most bread.”
There are other foods that can make large crumbly messes also, together with ice cream. In microgravity, these dehydrated treats could turn into so brittle that they crack aside solely, and send flavored flakes of these icy treats flying all over the place.
Collaborations between various teams and start facilities have been acquiring other sorts of frozen treats like popsicles, which NASA hopes to deliver to the ISS in the long run, says Wu.
Salt and Pepper
Sorry, there is no typical seasoning out in house. If you were to shake salt and pepper out in place, the grains would stop up suspended in the air and be a comparable hazard to floating crumbs. To add a minor much more flavor to foodstuff, NASA researchers have appear up with a intelligent choice: liquid spice. Instead of applying salt-and-pepper shakers, astronauts pour on pre-made salt and pepper remedies like they would salad dressing or sauces. NASA’s food stuff lab dissolves the salt in water and the pepper in oil right before sending off the liquid spice to space.
Fizzy drinks are possibly the most perilous of banned house foods, purely due to the fact the effects of drinking them nevertheless are not completely comprehended.
Carbonated drinks, by definition, include dissolved carbon dioxide. To get rid of this carbon dioxide, people normally finish up releasing the gasoline with a burp, but in accordance to NASA, carbonation and soda don’t separate in microgravity. Without the need of gravity to press these bubbles out, following swallowing, they could turn into trapped in an astronaut’s digestive method and induce adverse wellbeing outcomes.
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“In the microgravity natural environment, it could be a moist burp because the gas and the liquid really do not are inclined to separate routinely,” she states. “It will be a irritation for guaranteed.”
However, it’s complicated to pin down the actual health and fitness repercussions of bubbly drinks due to the fact NASA has not been capable to safely and securely conduct checks on astronauts to see how carbonation in microgravity could probably damage the crew.
Following a very long day or for celebratory events, astronauts just cannot whip up a cocktail or pop a bottle of champagne. But liquor is not just banned to ensure ISS crew associates continue to be focused and alert. A person of the primary good reasons libations are not authorized on board is due to the fact it could probably hurt the Environmental Command and Everyday living Guidance Process, or ECLISS.
Just one of ECLISS’ several responsibilities is to give thoroughly clean air and clean up h2o to the station by recycling urine, cabin condensation, and other waste goods. A critical ingredient in liquor is ethanol, a compound which could also come to be exceptionally risky in space. Simply because the recycled drinking water has rigid purity expectations, everything interfering with an astronaut’s natural digestive processes, like added chemical contaminants like ethanol breathed out by crew, could place the full existence method in jeopardy.
“That method is very delicate to ethanol,” states Wu. “Therefore, if alcoholic beverages is remaining despatched up [and consumed], that will evaporate and interfere with the system’s [ability] to regenerate air and water.”
But historically, though some astronauts surely have no dilemma heading without having a consume for a few months, there have been some circumstances of crew associates sneaking their very own spirits aboard.