Thursday, November 27, 2014

International Space Station Crew's Thanksgiving Dinner Menu

HOUSTON, Texas – Please pass the irradiated smoked turkey, thermostable yams and freeze-dried green beans. While most Americans are roasting turkeys and emptying cranberry sauce out of cans, the International Space Station crew will be cutting open bags of freeze-dried, irradiated and thermostabilized foods for their Thanksgiving dinner when orbiting 260 miles above Earth.

Their menu will include traditional holiday fare with a space-food flair — irradiated smoked turkey, thermostabilized candied yams and freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms. The meal also will feature NASA’s own freeze-dried cornbread dressing — just add water. Dessert features thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler.

Station food generally resembles that, for the most part, flown in space since the inception of the Space Shuttle Program some 30 years ago. NASA is researching and developing ways to extend the shelf-life of food needed for deep space missions, such as those to Mars, and to minimize the volume of packaging. The agency also is using the International Space Station as a laboratory to learn how to grow plants, such as lettuce, in space.

Scientists believe most food items in the transit food system on future deep space missions will resemble those used on the station. Advanced processing and packaging methods will be needed to provide extended shelf lives and improved nutrition for the longer missions. Stored food and salad crops will be used in the early stages of planetary stays until permanent living bases are constructed.

Future crew members spending Thanksgiving in space may have one traditional staple - fresh sweet potatoes that are able to adapt to a controlled environment with artificial sunlight.  The sweet potato may be one of the crops chosen for crews to grow on deep space missions. It provides an important energy source — carbohydrate — as well as beta-carotene.

Article Source and Photo Credit: NASA