Have you ever dreamt of becoming an astronaut, or at least spent a few moments picturing how it would be “going where no man has been before,” flying through space, surrounded by the best technology mankind has to offer? I suppose a lot of people have, but does anyone think about the daily challenges of eating, sleeping, washing and “disposing” in space?
With the enormous cost of sending food (or anything else) into space, scientists are constantly looking for ways to optimize what and how astronauts eat. NASA has been very active in recent years, looking for alternatives to the classical MRE’s (Meals Ready-to-Eat). A few years back they even contracted a company to make a 3D printer that can “print” pizza, and recently the ISS crew, to their delight, got their first taste of homegrown vegetables. Regarding the fact that in space you can not buy what you need from the corner retail store and mankind’s growing ambitions to colonize the solar system, the U.S. space agency has no choice than to take a more sustainable approach to the problems that long space travel brings with it. That’s why they have an extra yearly budget put aside to find a way to recycle excrement (back) into food.
So if you should come across an opening for a well payed job at NASA, read the fine print first, I can imagine that a large part of their budget will be spent on finding volunteers for the taste tests.