Season Two Debut:
A Brief History of Space Gastronomy
The Feast is back! And our debut episode for Season Two is out of this world. Literally! We're going back to one of the most (in)famous meals in the history of NASA, when a contraband corned beef sandwich snuck aboard Gemini 3 in 1965. We'll explore how space food has changed over the years. No more Tang and freeze-dried ice cream for modern astronauts, the space food of tomorrow may include everything from homemade sourdough bread to wine. We'll talk to Sebastian D. Marcu, CEO and founder of Bake in Space, a company with a noble goal: to bring the art of homemade bread to space. Explore how different countries are making sure their classic cuisines are represented in zero gravity, whether it's Italian espresso, German rolls, or Korean kimchi. Learn the difficulties of sending fermented foods into space & how the future missions to Mars may make farmers out of some astronauts!
Written and Produced by Laura Carlson
Technical Direction by Mike Portt
The Contraband Corned Beef Sandwich
The most infamous NASA space food story remains the contraband corned beef sandwich astronaut John Young smuggled aboard Gemini 3 in March of 1965. Although the official mission recording doesn't preserve the surprise of Command Pilot, Gus Grissom, when his colleague pulled the sandwich from a pocket in his space suit, the conversation between the two was recorded in the mission log:
Grissom: What is it?
Young: Corn beef sandwich.
Grissom: Where did that come from?
Young: I brought it with me. Let's see how it tastes. Smells, doesn’t it?
Grissom: Yes, it's breaking up. I’m going to stick it in my pocket.
Young: Is it?
Young: It was a thought, anyway.
Young: Not a very good one.
Grissom: Pretty good, though, if it would just hold together.
Young: Want some chicken leg?
Grissom: No, you can handle that.
You can still see the space food that started it all, preserved in the Gus Grissom Memorial Museum in Mitchell Indiana.
Sebastian D. Marcu of Bake in Space
Bringing Sourdough to the Stars
The goal of the company Bake in Space is to produce freshly made bread aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in micro-gravity. will be the typical weekend German bread roll. We are working to produce a bread machine that will be capable of baking bread rolls and a dough mixture that will be suitable for the space environment. We were able to talk with Sebastian D. Marcu, founder and CEO of Bake in Space about their plans to send one of their bread prototypes up with German astronaut, Alexander Gerst, on his trip to the ISS in early 2018.
Find out more about Bake in Space and how you can get involved with their project to bring bread to the stars at: bakein.space
Cosmic Coffee: The ISSpresso
After years of enduring freeze-dried coffee, astronauts in 2014 were finally able to enjoy a proper cup of coffee. A joint venture by the Turin-based Argotec and coffee brand Lavazza, the ISSpresso machine was sent to the ISS and the first "proper" cup of coffee was enjoyed in 2015.
Beam Them Up!
Recent Advances in International Space Cuisine
Food scientists in both South Korea and Japan have been hard at work to send culinary classics from their countries to space.
Attack of the Space Kimchi!
When Soyeon Yi was chosen to become the first South Korean astronaut in 2008, food scientists from her country worked hard to make sure she could enjoy a staple of Korean food, kimchi, while she was aboard the ISS. While fermented foods have often been unwelcome in space due a fear of bacterial mutagenesis, Korean scientists were able to invent a modified kimchi (that included added calcium lactate and Vitamin C, along with low level gamma radiation) that was deemed safe for space travel. Space Kimchi was officially accepted by the Russian space program and was sent aboard the ISS shortly thereafter.
Instant Ramen Goes Stellar
No longer the staple of college dorms everywhere, the inventor of instant ramen himself, Momofuku Ando, helped to send ramen to space with his invention of "space ram" in 2005. By slightly modifying his original instant ramen recipe, he devised a space-ready ramen that didn't rely on boiling water (or that wouldn't float away in zero gravity! Ando's company, Nissan Foods, has since developed several variations of ramen approved by JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Some Space Food Classics
While few astronauts may fondly look back to the "tubes and cubes" era of space travel, astronaut food captured the imagination of Americans throughout the 1960s and 70s. Tang, a beverage invented by food scientist, William H. Mitchell, for the General Foods Company in the 1950s, soon became inextricably linked with NASA and the space program when it was chosen to accompany astronaut John Glenn on his mission in 1962. Unfortunately, Glenn revealed in 2013 that he actually hated the stuff. Mitchell was also responsible for inventing a number of other "future foods", including Cool Whip, pop rocks, and variations on instant Jell-O.