One of the most important primary design factors (for each and every hardware) while building models to launch in space is weight and volume. Space shuttles also consider the weight and volume before they are launched. The food habit of the astronauts in these space shuttles has been a source of curiosity since a very long among common people.
It must be known that the space shuttles have weight limits for food per person. They allow 1.72 kg of food per day person which also includes the weight of food packaging (0.45 kg).
The packaging of food done for astronauts is different as they require special methods and techniques in order to survive the zero gravity system of space.
All the type of food but fresh fruits and vegetables are pre-cooked and preserved using special preservation methods. They do not require to be kept in refrigerators as well. In case of fruits and vegetables, they are packed in special bags designed to store them however; they are required to be consumed within two days.
The different variety of food that the astronauts eat while in space is given below:
Thermo-stabilized– One of the most common types of processed foods, thermo-stabilized food is heat processed and is kept in aluminium, bimetallic tins or retort pouches for the use of astronauts.
Irradiated– Irradiated are the types of food processed and preserved by the exposing them in ionizing radiation. Also, these are kept in flexible foil laminated pouches.
Freeze dried foods– This type of food is prepared in three stages which involves, preparing it to the ‘ready to eat’ stage, then freezing it, and then drying it in freeze dryer. These three steps help in the removal of water from food by sublimation. Freeze dryer foods are easy to eat as the only requirement before eating them is to add hot or cold water in it.
Intermediate moisture food– These are dried foods and packed in flexible pouches. Intermediate moisture food have low moisture content for example, dried apricots.
Rehydratable– Rehydratable foods are those which can be rehydrated by adding water produced by the shuttle orbiter’s fuel system.
Natural form– Some food like nuts, cookies, crunch bars, etc. are eaten in their original or natural form in space. They are packed in flexible plastic pouches and taken to space.
Beverages– Astronauts carry beverage in powder mix forms in a way similar to aeroplanes. All an astronaut needs to do is add hot water to that mixture and then drink it.
Advancement in the Quality of food taken to space
The type of food eaten by astronauts in space has witnessed a great deal of growth. Earlier, they used to carry foods (soft or baby food) in tubes like that of toothpastes but now the quality as well as the methods to preserve these foods has improved.
The astronomers used to eat freeze dried powder, semi-liquid food, all packed in aluminium tins.
However, this food type was replaced during the Gemini missions of 1964-1967. The choice of food for astronauts increased. They even had options to eat food products like apple sauce and pudding.
The Apollo programme also made the use of spoon bowls possible for space travellers. But a major change was witnessed during Skylab (1973-74)). The skylab space station was large enough to have a dining room available. The large storage area made it possible to have a lot many option in the food menu as well.