Early astronaut menus

Posted by Anonymous
on Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Trail-blazing astronauts should be commended for enduring NASA’s early menus.

According to the space agency, John Glenn, America's first man to eat while orbiting Earth, found the task of eating fairly easy, but found the selection limited. During the 1960s, other Mercury astronauts endured bite-sized cubes, freeze-dried powders, and semi-liquids stuffed in aluminum tubes. Most astronauts agreed the foods were unappetizing and they disliked the process of eating: Freeze-dried foods were hard to rehydrate and crumbs had to be prevented from damaging instruments.

During the Gemini missions the fare improved somewhat. The squeeze-tube food was replaced with bite-sized cubes coated with gelatin, and the freeze-dried foods were encased in a special plastic container to make reconstitution easier. With improved packaging came improved food quality and menus. Gemini astronauts had such choices as shrimp cocktail, chicken, butterscotch pudding, and applesauce.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the quality and variety of food increased even further during the Apollo program. Apollo astronauts were the first to have hot water, which made rehydrating foods easier and improved the taste. They were also the first to use the “spoon bowl,” a plastic container that could be opened so the food could be eaten with a spoon.

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