Why can't I buy real space food from Amazon? They even have berets for ferrets.
October 18, 2010 11:23 AM   Subscribe

The International Space Station apparently has an extensive menu of food choices, which I assume are manufactured by private contractors in various countries. So why can't I order real space food online?

I'd like to eat astronaut food for a day - real astronaut food, not the overpriced nonsense once can buy in a museum gift shop, or the freeze-dried dinners available at any camping supply store. This food list (from this review) indicates that they've got a wide array of choices, which I assume are churned out by private contractors like everything else space-related these days, but my internet searches turn up nothing your average non-astronaut can buy. So, am I out of luck, or can I buy some ISS "Tofu w/ Hoisin sauce" somewhere?
posted by cmonkey to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You may be interested in The Astronaut's Cookbook: Tales, Recipes, and More. One of the (5-star) reviews is from Millie Hughes-Fulford, who flew on STS-40, so that speaks highly of it.

Beyond that, I would contact people at the Space Food Systems Laboratory, which "designs, develops, evaluates and produces flight food."
posted by jedicus at 11:33 AM on October 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

And indeed the review you linked mentions the same Vickie Kloeris who is listed as a contact on the SFSL page.
posted by jedicus at 11:39 AM on October 18, 2010

I wouldn't assume that the production of food for the ISS necessitates mass production of said food. NASA is one of the only games in town for manned space travel and they don't have a large number of missions. I would assume that the meals are most likely produced in small quantities.
posted by proj at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I watched a whole show on the NASA channel that was interviews with the ladies who work in the NASA kitchen and make some of the food for space, so at least some of it is made there.

That may or may not be the same place as the Space Food Systems laboratory that jedicus mentions.
posted by mrs. taters at 12:18 PM on October 18, 2010

I suspect the reason it isn't offered for sale is because the few people who might be interested in buying would mostly faint from sticker shock.

Special food, prepared like that by hand, and sealed up the way it is, cannot possibly be cheap. Would you still be interested in buying if you knew it would cost you a couple of thousand dollars per meal? (I don't know that's the price, but it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:27 PM on October 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Just recently I read the book jedicus pointed you to, as I've been interested in space food too. Bourland (now retired) was the Director of the group that manufactures food for space at NASA. The book notes what grocery store products are used in space (there's a lot) as well as recipes for all kinds of things, including stuff like "bacon bars" which helpfully note you'll want to take one bite and then give it to your dog. :-) Check out the Look Inside feature on Amazon and scroll down. A lot of the book is there.

Beyond that, My Own Meal weren't used by NASA but were on Mir. They may still be on the menu but I don't recall them being mentioned in the book at least. They are used by the military due to being Kosher and the like, and that line of products (MREs) are related. Bourland's group worked with Natick a lot.

Someone really ought to run a blog on this topic. I'll put together what I can and post it to my site and then drop a link in this thread. Everyone's so fascinated by it but Bourland's book was really one of the first efforts to bring it to us non-astronauts. He seems pretty cool too. His email and snail mail addresses are in the book. There's probably content on the internet about the Russian side too, and I noticed India is getting involved as well.

I've been wondering how they make the bags the food go in. There's got to be some vacuum bagers that let you use the widgets at the top of the bags towards the top of this picture (warning: 4mb download).

Why? Well, it's fun, it'd be useful for camping and backpacking especially as the dehydrated options are limited and kinda boring, and food hacks doing Sous-vide would probably be interested. Personally I'd just like to know how to stabilize food for storing in my car for when I get hungry on the road but don't have the time to stop at a restaurant. That's hard with proteins and 100F days during the summer.
posted by jwells at 12:57 PM on October 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

This is going slow but here you go: Grub in Space.
posted by jwells at 7:46 AM on October 27, 2010

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