COOKING IN WEIGHTLESSNESS
Astronauts have limited access to a diversity of ingredients and this shift in diet could be interpreted as a loss of self-identity. To address this, we are developing a suite of new space food products and preparation techniques.
We are investigating “Molecular Gastronomy in Zero Gravity”—an ongoing project that explores artistic and technical aspect of preparing food in space. A
A molecular gastronomy experiment was flown on a zero gravity flight in August 2019, using spherification techniques to create recipes in weightlessness. Molecular Gastronomy in Zero G explores new modes of preparing food in space. Studying how food is created and consumed in zero gravity can help shed light on how our experiences of food extend far beyond mere nourishment. Food is not simply fuel—it’s part of what makes us human. Debriefs with astronauts tell us that food is a key creature comfort in spaceflight, and it will play an even more significant role on long duration spaceflight and future space habitats.
The current space food system offers some variability in menu items, but does little outside of sustenance. It’s freeze-dried and pre-packaged in ways consistent with the demands of present day space travel. For longer trips these self-contained meals will be detrimental to astronauts’ mental health. Promoting new culinary techniques and interactions between different sensory modalities will assist in improving the experience of food in space.