Astronauts have to eat while they’re in space, but that doesn’t mean they always enjoy the rules required for consumption in zero G. A healthy and balanced diet is a necessity for astronauts staying for long periods at the International Space Station, but unfortunately, many of their favorite foods might not be allowed to make the journey with them. According to NASA, anything that requires refrigeration won’t make it onto any mission.
But what else gets left back on Earth? Here are 7 foods that astronauts aren’t allowed to have:
Even when you’re on your best behavior, biting into that sandwich is still going to create some crumbs. Breads, crackers, and cookies don’t do well in space because all of those loose crumbs can float around and get stuck in sensitive equipment. In astronauts want bread when after they launch out of orbit, they’re limited to tortillas. Although, the invention of crumb-free bread could change that restriction pretty soon.
2. Salt and pepper
Try shaking salt, pepper or any other granular spice in space, and you’re going to wind up with a huge mess in microgravity. The seasonings wouldn’t even land on your food, so it’s basically a waste. But astronauts weren’t willing to give up on great tasting food — or at least, better tasting food — so NASA developed liquid alternatives for the astronauts to use instead.
NASA astronauts are not permitted to have any alcohol is space. When they’re orbiting Earth, it’s basically a 24/7 job, and they need to be sharp and responsive at all times.
4. Soda / Pop
Here on Earth we debate if it’s soda or pop, or soda pop, or Coke. But in space, it’s just a no-go. Carbonated beverages act differently in space than they do under Earth’s gravity. As a result, all of those carbon dioxide bubbles remain in the liquid, as opposed to rising to the surface where they pop. Consuming these extra bubbles can give astronauts digestive issues.
5. Astronaut ice cream
What? But it’s named for astronauts! Yes, it’s true. Astronaut ice cream is one of the most popular souvenirs from science museum gift shops, and kids Earth-wide find the fun treat irresistible, but there is no history of it ever flying in space. Much like bread, its brittle, crumbly texture would make a dusty mess of floating debris that would potentially interfere with space equipment and astronauts’ eyesight.
The best space foods are those that can be stored for a long period of time without going bad. Fish doesn’t pass this test. (Freeze-dried shrimp would be one exception.) But that’s just half of the story. Remember the last time someone reheated leftover fish in your office microwave. Imagine smelling that, and then without an influx of fresh air available, being trapped with those smells for hours or days. It’s just best if they don’t.
You might snack on chips when you’re watching the shuttle launch, but know that no one on board that aircraft has that luxury. Chip crumbs and oils make too much of a mess to be allowed as part of the astronauts’ diets. Plus, astronauts need nutritionally wholesome foods to get their bodies through the daily rigors of zero G. Chips are pretty much void of any of that.