NASA is facing a difficult challenge when it comes to the Orion spacecraft, and they think they might have a solution.
NASA has developed some of the most incredibly complex technology mankind has ever seen, from telescopes to spacecraft to software. But as the agency turns its sights on sending humans on a deep space mission to Mars via the Orion spacecraft, they’re turning their resources toward developing something else: food.
Sending food into space is not an easy task, and NASA has had to try to figure out ways to create food that is both space-ready and gives astronauts enough variety that they don’t go crazy with the dull food. Now, NASA has developed a new food bar for the Orion spacecraft for deep space missions, and it’s not exactly the most pleasant looking meal, but it will get the job done.
The food bar, which is packed with calories, tackles a unique challenge presented by the Orion spacecraft: because astronauts can’t get cargo deliveries or have any place to put trash, they’ll need a nutrient-packed breakfast bar in order to save precious room, according to a NASA statement.
NASA had to figure out how to pack a lot of calories into as small a space as possible. NASA is currently working on developing the food bars and trying to tweak the taste so that it will be a boost rather than a drag on morale.
“When you have 700 to 900 calories of something, it’s going to have some mass regardless of what shape it’s in, so we’ve taken a look at how to get some mass savings by reducing how we’re packaging and stowing what the crew would eat for breakfast for early Orion flights with crew,” said Jessica Vos, deputy health and medical technical authority for Orion. “When you think about multi-week missions in Orion, having just one package for breakfast items for crew will help us limit the space we need to store them.”
“There’s no commercially-available bar right now that meets our needs, so we’ve had to go design something that will work for the crew, while trying to achieve a multi-year shelf-life,” said Takiyah Sirmons, a food scientist with the Advanced Food Technology team at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.