Lunch after launch

Eating in space has its own challenges. Everything floats around, for a start, and keeping the meatballs in a meatball sandwich is difficult at the best of times. So food, like everything else in human space flight, is very tightly controlled.

But it was not always that way.

In the early days of human space travel, we weren’t even sure if you could eat in space. Perhaps we need gravity to swallow? Uri Gagarin, the first person in space, ate a delicious combination of meat-in-a-tube and chocolate-in-a-tube as he whizzed around, and we discovered that, usefully, the human esophagus doesn’t need gravity to work. Peristalsis, the wave-like contraction that brings the food down, works just fine all by itself.

So we could eat in space. But what should we eat? Well, the early food was not what you’d call… good. It’s mostly described in terms of its shape – if the main characteristic of your dinner is that it’s a cube, well, leave the restaurant. But the astronauts weren’t going up there for that long – a few hours – so getting hungry wasn’t a huge concern. The really big problem was if you needed to go to the bathroom when you were up there. Not impossible, but better to avoid it, eh? So, in case you were wondering, yes, the astronauts were deliberately fed, ahem, ‘low residual’ food on the morning of their mission. Which is, apparently, bacon-wrapped filet mignon and scrambled eggs.

As time went on, the food on space missions got better. But food is one of the many, many things our astronauts have not figured out on the latest episode of Action Science Theatre

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