International Space Station To Get Japanese Take-Out

Japanese space food will soon be available on the International Space Station; the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency has certified 29 Japanese food products for use in space.


(Japanese space food courtesy of JAXA)

Astronauts and cosmonauts can now enjoy such Japanese take-out standards as ramen, curry, onigiri (rice balls) and green tea. What took them so long?

The ISS has tough standards for food in space; it must be able to survive the changes in temperature and pressure on the ride up, and must be able to survive a year in storage at zero-g.

Careful food service engineering is also required; for example, the ramen has a thick broth and the noodles are clumped together in bite-sized pieces. Food products are also packed in special containers, and can have preparation times no longer than an hour. (See some additional Japanese space food samples.)

In 2008, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will be joining the ISS staff; he will appreciate these JAXA-approved delicacies (made more tasty in zero-G by extra spices):

  • Egg soup
  • Rice with red azuki beans and wild greens
  • Salmon onigiri (rice balls)
  • Mackerel in miso sauce
  • Kabayaki saury (broiled with sweet soy sauce)
And for dessert, a little bit of Kuroame (brown sugar candy); hopefully, the International Space Station also has stringent standards regarding brushing after meals.


(Captain Janeway regards a food replicator on the USS Voyager)

Science fiction writers have been dreaming of elaborate space cuisine for generations. John W. Campbell anticipated the Star Trek food replicators in his 1934 story Twilight:

The food was three hundred thousand years old, I suppose. I didn't know, and the machines that served it to me didn't care, for they made things synthetically, you see, and perfectly.
(Read more about Campbell's synthetic food dispenser

Robert Heinlein seized upon the newly invented Raytheon microwave oven in his classic 1948 juvenile novel Space Cadet:

...every ration taken aboard a Patrol vessel is pre-cooked and ready for eating as soon as it is taken out of freeze and subjected to the number of seconds...
(Read more about Heinlein's microwavable food rations)

NASA has also given a great deal of thought about how to provide food to astronauts on long voyages; see Robotic Tomato Harvester Ready For Space for details. The Chinese space program is also interested in the effects of space travel on food production; see Chinese 'Seed Satellite'. US astronauts, however, are going to want beef; take a look at Cultured Meat Straight From The Vat.

Via Pink Tentacle.

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