…provide high-quality flight food systems that are convenient, compatible with each crew member’s physiological and psychological requirements, meet spacecraft stowage and galley interface requirements, and are easy to prepare and eat in the weightlessness of space.
Easier said than done.
Forget for a moment that the SFSL is in charge of devising ways to store food so that it will last the length of a space mission in an alien environment. The SFSL have to prepare high-quality, pre-packaged meals that provide enough nutrition while being easy to prepare and consume in a weightless environment. A rather tall order considering it’s difficult to simulate those scenarios on Earth.
Plus, as if the task wasn’t challenging enough already, astronauts lose their sense of smell, and their sense of taste degrades considerably in space (the weightlessness of space has numerous adverse effects on the human body, including a loss of bone density). One theory, to explain this loss of taste, is that the weightlessness of space leads your body to retain fluid in your face and head causing a congested feeling (and you can’t taste as well when you have a cold). To compensate, SFSL has developed their food offerings over the past 50 years to provide spice and flavor in addition to nutrition.
To commemorate over 50 years of SFSL’s work, NASA has unveiled a series of images that show the improvement of technology and foodstuffs relating to meals for astronauts. Check out the gallery below: