If you've not heard the news yet, American astronaut Scott Kelly returns today from his 11-month stay aboard the International Space Station. Kelly, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Korneinko, have been aboard the international vessel 250 miles above Earth since late March 2015.
The purpose of their mission? To see how a marathon space session impacts a person, both mentally and physically. Those are answers we must have if ever we want to make our way to Mars for our eventual colonization of the red-hued neighbor planet (we're coming, Matt Damon!). Kelly is uniquely situated to help answer these questions because he comes with an almost identical copy that's still on Earth. That's right, his twin, astronaut Mark Kelly, remained on Earth so scientists and researchers could do side-by-side comparisons of the two men's bodies to measure the effects of zero-g, radiation, and long-term space stays.
His mission, the work he and Korneinko did, his twitter conversation with President Obama, and his hilarious zero-g hijinks are wonderful and inspiring (and funny), but... we are just dying to know what he ate!
Though Kelly spent most of his Instagram bandwidth posting breathtaking photos from hundreds of miles above our little blue planet (Africa is just unreal), he did save a few posts for what he was eating--or rather, what he wasn't.
He wasn't eating food from a tube, à la early flight food. (And he tragically wasn't eating the Ice Cream of the Future either.) As a space traveling folk, we've progressed from semi-liquid food squeezers to actual food for our brave space explorers. Well, as close to actual food as space travel allows. Almost all the food is dehydrated when it's placed on the ship. Then the space station crew rehydrates it before heating it up for their meal. The ISS has no refrigeration system, so fresh fruits and vegetables are only available when cargo shipments arrive--or when you can grow something.
In 2015, ISSpresso joined the space station kitchen crew. Not your typical espresso machine, the ISSpresso requires bags, not cups. One bag provides water; the other bag catches the espresso. Astronauts use a straw to sip the java.
Wondering why his hamburger is on a flour tortilla and not a soft bun? Bread particles are just too perilous for the ISS. Much like salt and pepper granules, bread crumbs could float off and clog air vents or contaminate equipment. So tortillas = bread.
He'll be headed for Earth soon, so if you're interested, you can livestream the landing over at Time.com.
More About Food in Space:
- From NASA: Eating in Space
- From NASA: 7 Ways Astronaut Scott Kelly Will Need To Readjust to Earth After 340 Days in Space
- From TIME: A Year in Space