NASA astronauts at the International Space Station saw something on their menus for the first time on Monday, August 10th: home-grown food. For years, personnel on the station have been able to grow plants, but all the samples have been sent to Earth for scientific investigation. What finally made it to the dinner table was a strain of lettuce called "Outredgeous" red romaine, and they whipped it up into an awesome salad. It got us thinking: What other foods have space travelers shoved in their astro-holes?
On the first human spaceflight ever, the Vostok I in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin ate three, THREE, 160g toothpaste-like tubes filled with two parts puréed meat and one part chocolate sauce. Nothing like home cooking.
The crew of the Mercury Missions, held between 1959 and 1963, complained about the cubed food morsels, among other offerings, and it was because of their discontent that NASA started investing in better menus. They wanted food that came in hexagons, gosh darnit!
Since the 1950s, the favorite food among space walkers has been that ritzy appetizer (or depending how many you crush, 12-course meal) of shrimp cocktail. Edward White, helming the Gemini 4 mission in '65, named it his favorite favorite favorite. To this day, cosmo cuisine hasn't gotten better than that.
That's either butterscotch pudding in there or a Nitro gel fuel source. For Gemini crew, let's hope it was the former. Though, we got to admit, with enough frosting, Nitro gel doesn't taste that bad...
The astronauts during the Apollo program, which ran from '69 to '72, were the first in their class to experience the luxury of hot water. Sometimes they'd even freeze hot water and eat it that way! But seriously, the advent of hot water allowed for the astronauts to mix it with dehydrated foods for better-tasting grub.
This was a typical meal that would be given to Gemini crew members. They came in all kinds of well-known flavors, like meat combination A, meat combination B, and meat combination C. Which combination is your favorite?
This square of goodness was actually taken aboard Apollo 11 in '69. The cake could be eaten right out of the bag, without the use of utensils, even though chefs recommend that it get boiled or sautéed first.
Since the 1980s, astronauts have favored tortillas to slices of bread for one major reason: no crumbs. Tortillas have all the flexibility, if not more, and none of the mess. That is, unless you use chopsticks and a stack of tortillas and pretend your Neil Pert; then you can generate quite the mess and literally zero great music.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has developed all kinds of traditional Japanese cuisines, and packaged and prepared them for space dining. This is some rehydratable ShÅyu-flavored ramen.
Rehydratable foods are waterless to help conserve weight, space and taste. Water is added back into the foods just before eating, though of course, this is optional. For any masochists on board the Space Station, chewing shards of what tastes like iron wool that rips up your gums is highly recommended.
Thermostabalized foods are ones that are heat-treated to zap any bugs or bacteria that may have gotten in there and given the grub some flavor. The foods are put in heat-safe packages, which can undergo the process. This can be anything from pudding to tuna to fruit, and all tastes like a receipt for a pair of Nike shoes.
Intermediate Moisture Foods are ones prepared in that sweet spot between bacteria breeding-ground moist and cotton-mouth, wood-chip dry. They've got enough water to taste semi-soft, but not enough to host anything unintended.
Natural Form Foods are ones that look, feel, taste, even soundlike foods we have here on Earth. But don't let that fool you: they're really wrapped up in plastic coatings like the rest of the inventory! Actually, they're just the same, and require no special treatment. But still...plastic wrap?
These already come pre-packaged, so problem solved. No assembly necessary. If you mix the ketchup, mustard, and mayo together you can actually get this really great smoothie that tastes disgusting and makes you vomit. So there's always that option.
Coffee addictions aren't bound to Earth's atmosphere, so you can imagine how uptight astronauts would be if they didn't have their "Joe" on board. In May of 2015, Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoferetti was the first to drink space coffee brewed by the Lavazza and Argotec Espresso Machine. Which means Cristoferetti was also the first to drink her second, third, and maybe even tenth espresso in space.