1997-07-01

Advanced Life Support Food Development: A New Challenge 972363

In preparation for the 21st Century, NASA Johnson Space Center is designing and building a habitat (Bio-Plex) intended for use in long duration missions where all life support systems will be recycled and reused. Crops grown on-board will be used for air and water recycling and also serve as a food source. Space food development for Bio-Plex marks a departure from previous NASA missions yet some basic principles still apply. The differences and similarities will be discussed.
The United States space food program has progressed from tubes and cubes in the earlier years to eating familiar food from open containers using normal utensils. All space food development problems include weight and volume restrictions, nutrition, crew acceptability and consumption, and management of food generated waste. To date, food for spaceflight has been carried onboard or delivered in space. Preparation has been limited to rehydration and heating to serving temperature.
One of the main challenges for Bio-Plex food development will be to obtain a menu with sufficient variety and acceptability from a limited number of plant sources. In particular, innovative ingredients and foods will be required to substitute more common dairy and meat products. These substitutes along with the entire menu must be palatable and acceptable to the crew during their long duration mission. Examples of menu items will be presented and discussed.

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