These four scrumptious meals are nonetheless banned on the ISS

Have you read the joke about the astronaut who obtained meals poisoning? Almost certainly not, and for very good explanation. It is simply because these an party has actually by no means occurred. To date, no astronaut has ever gotten a food stuff-borne sickness in place.

“At NASA, we truly have a higher microbiological conventional when compared to most corporations in the normal food items sector,” claims Xulei Wu, a NASA foods scientist and meals procedure supervisor for the Global Room Station. In other text, NASA is a stickler about food items security and storage when it arrives to place vacation. 

To lessen the threat of opportunity sickness, all food products despatched to the ISS ought to undertake demanding tests. If a food fails the take a look at, individuals items are straight away thrown out of the jogging to turn out to be freeze-dried astronaut chow. In contrast, a successful dish has to be each risk-free to take in, and ready to provide a great deal of nutrition in just one serving. 

What is within an astronaut’s pantry?  

Nevertheless an astronaut’s diet regime, when definitely rigorous, isn’t necessarily a bland just one. 

On any given day, the Global Space Station’s pantry-fashion dining set up has about 200 dishes an astronaut can pick to take in. This freeze-dried buffet accounts for about 70-75 percent of all the crew’s foods. The relaxation largely will come from crew-specific menu food—each astronaut is ready to make a kind of culinary wishlist, and ask for certain meals or drinks they want for the length of their mission. 

Even so, numerous of these supporter favorites could not stop up creating it to the station in time for an astronaut’s stay, and in some cases, at all. From generation all the way to transport, it will take very a extensive time for food to get authorised and then loaded on to a rocket. Even then, when meals will make it into orbit, it could get many years just before it’s eaten by a peckish astronaut who has a craving for their favourite snack. 

[Related: Why space lettuce could be the pharmacy astronauts need]

“We never have a cargo motor vehicle to go there each 7 days to ship what they want,” claims Wu. “Therefore we have to pre-pack their foodstuff and load all the food items on cargo motor vehicles right before the crew member even launches.” 

As room travel turns into even significantly less of a distant truth, NASA inevitably would like to get the job done on improving upon far better processing and packaging technologies to make foods past as long as feasible. 

But transportation apart, there are some food items that are currently banned on the place station—and the causes why may possibly surprise you. 


In our households, these smaller scraps are frequently categorized as an annoyance and mess relatively than a true challenge. But at the time you have still left the safety of Earth’s orbit, the petite particles are regarded as an occupational hazard. 

Crumbs are labeled Foreign Object Particles (FOD), or any object that could bring about injury to a craft or method. NASA says that these wayward particles could interfere with mission devices, be inhaled by crew customers and in some cases, float into their eyes. 

But fortunately, this does not necessarily mean that astronauts should go with out crumbly meals (which is a ton of food stuff) entirely. For example, rather of regular bread products and solutions, like rolls or biscuits, that quickly break aside and crumble, NASA’s food stuff lab suggests it is been sending substitute selections to the station. 

“The tortilla is tremendous preferred. It is not really a leavened bread, but it kind of serves a [similar] goal,” states Wu. “It’s versatile, but tortillas really do not crumble like most bread.” 

A “space cheeseburger.” Astronauts routinely use tortillas instead of bread thanks to the latter’s tendency to crumble and float away in microgravity. NASA Johnson Space Middle

There are other food items that can generate major crumbly messes also, which includes ice cream. In microgravity, these dehydrated treats could come to be so brittle that they crack aside solely, and deliver flavored flakes of these icy treats flying almost everywhere.

Collaborations between numerous teams and launch amenities have been creating other sorts of frozen treats like popsicles, which NASA hopes to send to the ISS in the long term, states Wu.  

Salt and Pepper

Sorry, there’s no conventional seasoning out in place. If you ended up to shake salt and pepper out in place, the grains would close up suspended in the air and be a very similar hazard to floating crumbs. To add a little a lot more taste to foodstuff, NASA researchers have come up with a clever alternative: liquid spice. Alternatively of applying salt-and-pepper shakers, astronauts pour on pre-produced salt and pepper methods like they would salad dressing or sauces. NASA’s food stuff lab dissolves the salt in h2o and the pepper in oil ahead of sending off the liquid spice to space. 

Carbonated Drinks

Fizzy drinks are probably the most hazardous of banned space foodstuff, purely mainly because the implications of ingesting them nevertheless are not totally recognized. 

Carbonated beverages, by definition, incorporate dissolved carbon dioxide. To get rid of this carbon dioxide, people ordinarily stop up releasing the fuel with a burp, but according to NASA, carbonation and soda do not individual in microgravity. With out gravity to drive these bubbles out, after swallowing, they could become trapped in an astronaut’s digestive procedure and trigger adverse wellbeing results. 

[Related: There’s a lot we don’t know about the International Space Station’s ocean grave]

“In the microgravity environment, it could be a moist burp due to the fact the gas and the liquid don’t are inclined to different instantly,” she says. “It will be a pain for absolutely sure.”

Having said that, it’s tricky to pin down the exact wellness effects of bubbly drinks due to the fact NASA has not been able to properly carry out exams on astronauts to see how carbonation in microgravity could most likely harm the crew. 

various packets of food, condiments, and drinks are strapped down onto a red table. scissors for cutting packages are also strapped down
Assorted food, drink, and condiment packets are strapped down on the foodstuff desk found in the Russian Zvezda support module on the Global Place Station. NASA Johnson Space Middle

Alcoholic beverages

Immediately after a lengthy working day or for celebratory events, astronauts cannot whip up a cocktail or pop a bottle of champagne. But alcohol isn’t just banned to assure ISS crew customers stay centered and inform. 1 of the major causes libations are not authorized on board is since it could potentially hurt the Environmental Control and Everyday living Guidance Technique, or ECLSS.

One of ECLSS’ a lot of tasks is to supply thoroughly clean air and clean drinking water to the station by recycling urine, cabin condensation, and other waste goods. A critical ingredient in liquor is ethanol, a compound which could also turn out to be really volatile in space. Since the recycled water has rigid purity specifications, anything interfering with an astronaut’s organic digestive procedures, which include excess chemical contaminants like ethanol breathed out by crew, could put the entire lifestyle system in jeopardy. 

“That technique is pretty delicate to ethanol,” claims Wu. “Therefore, if alcohol 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 issue going without the need of a drink for a handful of months, there have been some cases of crew associates sneaking their own spirits aboard.

Correction (March 30, 2022): This tale has been current to suitable a typo in the acronym for the Environmental Command and Daily life Support Program (ECLSS).

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