NASA admits that it’s been a trial-and-error process to nail down what kind of food both tastes good and works well in space. Considering the nearest drive-thru is more than 100 miles away, this is a bigger problem than you might suspect.
But one NASA astronaut says the debate is settled. Indian food rules in the vacuum of space because it’s tasty and has an extra feature.
“When people are in space, food tastes different because your nose gets stuffy because the fluid starts floating up there,” Anil Menon said. “So, I have heard from a lot of astronauts that Indian food is their favorite food because it’s spicier. It’s a medical fact.”
Menon, an Air Force fighter pilot, Harvard educated doctor, and former SpaceX flight surgeon, is the son of Indian immigrants. So, Indian food holds a special place in his heart. But other astronauts say they’ve got their favorite in-flight meals.
The menu aboard a NASA flight is surprisingly robust. Food scientists realized that variety is almost as important as nutrition. Especially when ordering a pizza would cost a few billion dollars, and they’d probably get the order wrong anyway.
Astronauts eat tacos, fresh fruits, seafood, and hamburgers like their land-based brethren. They even get condiments like salt and pepper. Though they’re in liquid form for safety, Business Insider noted.
Former Mike Massimino said he loved the NASA menu. He was more partial to Italian than Indian, though.
“Lasagna and macaroni and cheese were my favorites,” Massimino said. “It tastes exactly like macaroni and cheese or lasagna. You know, it’s food.”
But, he added, astronauts don’t eat the “astronaut ice cream” you can buy in stores.
“It’s terrible,” Massimino said. “We don’t eat that stuff in space. We have much better stuff up there.”
SpaceX Astronauts Forced to Wear Diapers After Toilet Breaks
All that food has to go somewhere. Unfortunately for a group of SpaceX astronauts, their dinner remained in close-body orbit after the toilets broke aboard their spaceship last month.
But astronauts and engineers are resourceful. They have back-ups to their back-ups in case something goes wrong in space. This time, they had a much more low-tech solution: The astronauts wore diapers for their flight home. Luckily for them, it was a short trip. They only needed to spend about 20 hours aboard the DragonX spaceship.
According to NBC News, NASA astronaut Megan McArthur said while this isn’t ideal, it’s just part of the realities of going into space.
“Spaceflight is full of lots of little challenges,” she said during an interview from space. “This is just one more that we’ll encounter and take care of in our mission. So we’re not too worried about it.”