Food launch into orbit | Cooking article on

On April 12, Russia celebrates Cosmonautics Day, because on April 12, 1961, the world’s first spacecraft-satellite “Vostok” with a man on board was launched into the earth’s orbit. The pilot-cosmonaut of the ship was a citizen of the USSR, pilot, Major Yuri Gagarin.

With the exploration of space by man, the question arose of developing food suitable for consumption in zero gravity. Food products must meet a number of criteria to be considered suitable for astronauts. First, food should be nutritious, easily digestible and tasty. Secondly, food products must be designed for consumption in zero gravity. Products should not leave crumbs (this is dangerous in zero gravity) and have a minimum weight. They should store well, be easy to open, and not leave a lot of debris after use.

Initially, it was believed that the ideal food in orbit would be nutritional tablets that are completely digestible and at the same time do not take time to eat. Tablets were never created – they were replaced by portable and completely ready-to-eat food. On medical advice, the canneries prepared a three-course space lunch, each sealed in a tube that could be sucked and swallowed straight out of it.

Gagarin’s flight was relatively short – 108 minutes. At this time, one could do without food, but one of the goals of the flight was to try out space food. For the first launch, it was decided to use tubes of 160 grams. The diet for the 2-hour flight was modest: meat and chocolate. The flight of cosmonaut German Titov in August 1961 lasted 25 hours and was accompanied by three meals a day. The astronaut received all the same space food in tubes, but the ration was expanded: the astronaut received liver pate, vegetable puree soup, and blackcurrant juice. However, the calorie content of such a diet was clearly insufficient, so the menu was changed. Beef aspic tongue, sprat pies, Ukrainian borscht, entrecote, fire cutlets and chicken fillet appeared in the diet.

A lot has changed in space food since the 1960s – the famous food of astronauts in tubes is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Modern food for Russian cosmonauts is supplied in vacuum packages, as this type of packaging significantly reduces the weight of the cargo.

Food for astronauts is produced by freeze-drying. This is a time-consuming and expensive process, but it allows you to partially reduce the weight of the product, preserve its taste and nutritional properties, while increasing the shelf life.

In the diet of a Russian cosmonaut, you can find dishes such as rice, borscht, chicken fillet, scrambled eggs, salads. Russian scientists have even learned how to make bread that cannot be crumbled. Beef tongue and entrecote are still part of the space diet. At the moment, the diet of the Russian cosmonaut has 160 items of various dishes.

What astronauts eat now is also affected by the equipment available on the ISS. For example, in the Russian part of the ISS there is neither a refrigerator nor a microwave oven, which the Americans have. Therefore, Russian cosmonauts do not have access to food for defrosting or microwave cooking. American astronauts use semi-finished products and really cook them on the space station. At the moment, the American diet consists of 50% processed foods, 50% freeze-dried food.

There are fruits in the diet of American astronauts, however, they are also in the diet of Russian astronauts. However, despite the use of refrigeration units, apples and oranges can remain fresh for no more than 48 hours.

In the days of the USSR, Soyuz was supplied with alcoholic tincture of Eleutherococcus and even tubes of cognac for special occasions. However, in the 80s, it was decided that even in small doses, alcohol could adversely affect the performance of astronauts, and it was excluded from the diet.

Astronauts from other countries also go into space. Nutrition has features associated with their country of origin. The Japanese space mission regularly delivers fish, sushi and traditional noodles into orbit. Moreover, Japanese cosmonauts, even in orbit, remain true to traditions and eat food not with a special space fork-spoon, but with chopsticks, although this is done for experimental purposes, and not on an ongoing basis. Chinese space food, surprisingly, is not much different from Russian and American. The French are delivering truffles and goose liver into orbit – these delicacies have never been part of the Russian diet.

A curious incident occurred with the French space mission, when one of the astronauts tried to smuggle traditional blue cheese to the MIR station. Roscosmos specialists stopped this attempt because of the real threat of mold spores violating the biochemical sphere of the space station.

Space food can be eaten on Earth, it is easy to buy, and it can be an original corporate gift.

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