What do Astronauts Eat in Space?

Have you ever been curious about what astronauts eat in space? Space food has a fascinating history; astronauts and scientists from around the world have united their talents and cultures to create new ways to eat among the stars since the dawn of space exploration. This infographic by HowtoCook.Recipes explores the history of space food and different types of space food from around the world.

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What kind of foods do Astronauts Eat in Space?

What Do Astronauts Eat?

As shown in the infographic, food eaten in space has evolved over time thanks to innovations in technology. Today, astronauts eat a varied diet that is similar to what humans eat on Earth. The International Space Station’s menu includes more than a hundred items, such as vegetables, fruit, prepared meals, and desserts. Condiments such as ketchup, mustard, and hot sauce are available. In fact, sriracha and Tabasco sauce are beloved seasonings for many astronauts. Why do astronauts crave Tabasco in space? They often suffer from nasal congestion due to the realignment of body fluids in microgravity. The swelling of the nasal passages obstructs the delivery of odor molecules, which can reduce the flavor of food by 70 percent. To add more flavor, astronauts enjoy intense, spicy ingredients such as wasabi, Louisiana hot sauce, peppery olive oil, horseradish, and Tabasco. The first Korean astronaut brought space kimchi, which definitely packs a lot of flavor!

There are seven classifications of space food:

  • Beverages in dehydrated form
  • Fresh foods with a two-day shelf life, like fruits and vegetables
  • Irradiated meat
  • Foods with lower moisture content, such as prunes, candies, fruitcake, and baked goods
  • Foods that have been preserved with heat treatment and are ready to eat, such as tuna and chocolate pudding cake
  • Rehydratable foods such as powdered mash potatoes
  • Foods in their natural form, like nuts, cookies, and granola

What about foods that are banned in space? According to Reader’s Digest, food not allowed in space includes bread, due to the crumbs (they can float around and interfere with the electronic equipment and visibility); fizzy drinks, because they can cause “wet burps”; salt and pepper (again, no small particles like crumbs allowed); fresh milk; and real ice cream.

What Do Astronauts Drink in Space?

Astronauts mainly drink water, but some flavored drinks are also available. Coffee, tea, lemonade, apple juice, and orange juice come freeze-dried in vacuum-sealed packages. An astronaut must simply add water to a beverage pouch with a pressurized hose and drink it through a straw. The first freshly brewed cup of espresso coffee was enjoyed by astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on May 3, 2015, thanks to the invention of the ISSpresso, an espresso machine designed for space use. It was created through a partnership between Argotec, Lavazza, and the Italian Space Agency.

Is alcohol allowed in space? Alcohol is not permitted on the International Space Station for political, cultural, and logistical reasons. However, there have been several occasions of booze being brought into space in the past.

What Was the First Food Eaten in Space?

When the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin became the first astronaut in space in 1961, he consumed the first space meal: two squeeze tubes of pureed beef and a tube of chocolate sauce. Chocolate lovers will rejoice knowing that chocolate was one of the first space treats!

This infographic was brought to you by How To Cook Recipes.


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This page was last updated by Megan Miller