7 Things You Didn’t Know About Space Food Packaging
With all of the wonder and excitement that comes with the idea of astronauts, shuttles, and space stations, it is often easy to overlook basic necessities — like getting food up there in the first place! But NASA scientists have spent years perfecting unique packaging that keeps foods safe to eat and edible for long periods of time. Check out these seven amazing facts about space food packaging!
- NASA food packaging is made out of a five-layer co-extrusion of nylon, ethylene, vinyl alcohol, a tie later of polyethylene, and one of linear low-density polyethylene. These containers are intended for rehydrating food while in space.
- Space shuttle foods must have a nine month shelf life. Foods that go to the International Space Station (ISS) must last at least one year.
- While foods tend to be vacuum-sealed, the amount of vacuum used depends on the type of food. A large amount of vacuum will destroy the texture of some foods.
- Eggs are a common kind of food readily available to astronauts as a breakfast choice. To keep them edible, they are freeze dried twice and stored in metal cans or foil packages to be rehydrated later in space. Astronauts’ main complaint? The scrambled eggs are too crumbly and can be hard to eat in microgravity!
- NASA beverage packages are based on the package design of Capri Sun. It has been modified to be longer than those commercially available and filled with dry beverage powder.
- A few kinds of food, such as nuts and cookies, can go into space without special packaging. Fresh fruits and veggies can also travel safely into space, but must be eaten within a few days.
- Food weight allowances are limited to 3.8 pounds per day on the ISS and only 0.5 pounds per person per day on a space shuttle. Because of this, the NASA lab is always working do reduce weight of the packaging itself as much as possible.