To feast in space, you have to think about a lot of things before you can actually eat. It’s a marvelous feat of engineering up there, one that involves creativity and a lot of ingenuity to be able to enjoy a sandwich made with flour tortillas or a tasty dessert. And although the first space crops already exist, it wasn’t always that way. Technology has come a long way since 1961, when the first person had the opportunity to eat in space.
As with any other item to be loaded onto a spacecraft, the limitations on food are its weight and volume. Firstly, because the spacecraft has to accelerate sufficiently to take off, and secondly, because onboard space is limited. “On the International Space Station (ISS) which is, right now, the only permanently inhabited spacecraft, there is no refrigeration. That means there is no refrigerator or anything like that. The other complication is the zero gravity,” explains Eneko Axpe, PhD in Physics, researcher in gastrophysics, scientific collaborator with NASA and professor at the Basque Culinary Center.
Cultivating plants in space
NASA is looking to plant in space. Research is currently underway on the cultivation of microgreens. “These sprouts are very small and grow very fast, but at least they give the astronauts a sense of freshness, which is what they lack when they are in space,” says Axpe. On Earth we have the full spectrum of light (one of the factors responsible for crop growth), but in space we do not. After much research, NASA found that, using red and blue LEDs, it was enough to grow some plants outside the Earth.
Read the entire article at El País