Tray, Meal, Shuttle

This meal tray served as an astronaut’s “dining table” on Space Shuttle missions, enabling crew members to have a meal wherever they could find a place to anchor themselves in weightlessness. The Velcro patches, magnetic pads, and long spring across one edge kept food and beverage packages and eating utensils in place without floating away. On the back side, a Velcro closure strap could be wrapped around an astronaut’s leg or fore arm to secure the tray and leave both hands free. With limited stowage space on a spacecraft, NASA had to find compact, efficient solutions to basic needs. During the Space Shuttle era, NASA gave the Museum this meal tray, some silverware, and a variety of food and beverage packages to document how and what the crews ate in space.