About two weeks ago I met students who are developing technology that puts fresh fruit into a “coma,” thereby preserving their freshness for several months without refrigeration. At NanoRacks we have some of the perfect platforms to test such processes in microgravity both inside and outside of the International Space Station. In this way, the sky represents the next step where you can test new products, develop the next big concept and establish yourself firmly in the newest market: Space. Food and beverage companies have already performed some basic studies of how zero gravity changes flavors at a molecular level. Mixing, fermenting, and growing foods are studies that will be more and more essential with NASA and other entities planning manned deep space missions.
Someday space travelers will reap the benefits of these experiments. Until then, astronauts are eating meals put together by NASA Johnson Space Center’s food lab.
The goal is a meal that is healthy but with a strong and appealing taste. I watched the crew members taste the food and judging by their expressions and empty plates they approved of the choices. Will the food taste as good when it’s shrink-wrapped and then reconstituted? I’m sure I’ll never know personally. Way to go HUNCH and thanks for the invitation, Allison Westover.
On April 23rd I attended a cooking challenge at JSC in which HUNCH (High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware) students used their original recipes to cook for astronauts. One winning dish could fly to the International Space Station as new meal choice. HUNCH students always turn out great work, and this event was no exception. When asked to join in and critique the food I jumped at the chance. There was “Mercurian Pizza,” “Spacos,” orange-glazed salmon, even beef wellington. Students had to meet a set nutrition requirement and had to keep sodium levels low. Thus, the challenge! Making food tasty without much salt is hard to do. Combine that with the fact that in the absence of gravity one’s sense of taste is sort of dulled by sinus congestion.