Explorers and travelers throughout history have had to develop methods for preserving food and carrying enough food for their journeys. This problem was especially difficult during the time when people made long sea voyages on sailing ships. Great explorers like Columbus, Magellan and Cook carried dried foods and foods preserved in salt and brine. More recently, refrigeration and canning have provided solutions to the problem of food preservation.However, space travel required that new methods be devised for keeping foods edible. Foods taken into space must be light-weight, compact, tasty and nutritious. They must also keep for long periods without refrigeration. A variety of menus consisting of foods similar to those displayed here provided each astronaut with 2500 or more calories per day.
Freeze Dried Space Food
Most food for the Apollo missions was preserved through a process known as freeze-drying. Prior to packaging, a food was quick-frozen and then placed into a vacuum chamber. The vacuum removed all moisture from the foods. They were then packaged while still in the vacuum chamber. Freeze-drying provides foods that will keep their nutrition and taste qualities almost indefinitely. They are extremely light and compact and require no refrigeration.
A Brief History of Food in Space
Packaging and eating food in space posed special challenges at first--because of the absence of gravity and our lack of knowledge on the behavior of the human body in space. As the early human space programs proceeded, NASA developed improved techniques for eating in space. This brief history highlights changes in preparing and consuming food in space from Mercury through the Apollo/Soyuz Test Program.
More about Eating in Space
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