Imagine going camping for over a week with several
of your close friends. You would make sure you have plenty of food
and the gear to cook and eat it with. The food would have to be
stored properly and nonperishable to avoid spoilage. After finishing
your meal, or at the end of your camping trip, you would then stow
all your gear and dispose of your trash properly just before the
Astronauts basically do the same thing when they
go to space. Preparation varies with the food type. Some foods can
be eaten in their natural form, such as brownies and fruit. Other
foods require adding water, such as macaroni and cheese or spaghetti.
Of course, an oven is provided in the space shuttle and the space
station to heat foods to the proper temperature. There are no refrigerators
in space, so space food must be stored and prepared properly to
avoid spoilage, especially on longer missions.
Condiments are provided such as ketchup, mustard
and mayonnaise. Salt and pepper are available but only in a liquid
form. This is because astronauts can't sprinkle salt and pepper
on their food in space. The salt and pepper would simply float away.
There is a danger they could clog air vents, contaminate equipment
or get stuck in an astronaut's eyes, mouth or nose.
Astronauts eat three meals a day - breakfast, lunch
and dinner. Nutritionists ensure the food they eat provides them
with a balanced supply of vitamins and minerals. Calorie requirements
differ for astronauts. For instance, a small woman would require
only about 1,900 calories a day, while a large man would require
about 3,200 calories. There are also many types of foods an astronaut
can choose from such as fruits, nuts, peanut butter, chicken, beef,
seafood, candy, brownies, etc... Drinks range from coffee, tea,
orange juice, fruit punches and lemonade.
As on Earth, space food comes in packages that must
be disposed. Astronauts must throw their packages away in a trash
compactor inside the space shuttle when they are done eating. Some
packaging actually prevents food from flying away. The food packaging
is designed to be flexible, easier to use, as well as maximize space
when stowing or disposing food containers.