The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Astronaut Food Day *

* (restored)


Before man ventured into space for the first time, there was concern that he might choke while attempting to swallow food in zero gravity. Foreign body pneumonia from aspiration of food particles and droplets was feared by some. The ability of man to digest and absorb food in a weightless environment was also seriously debated. These concerns for man’s physiological well-being during weightlessness were augmented by fears that the unfamiliar and austere limitations imposed by the space vehicle and flight plans might place unacceptable constraints on the food system. Some food technologists doubted that edible foods could be prepared to withstand conditions of temperature, pressure, and vibration which were characteristic of unmanned space flight vehicles. Limitations on allowable weight and volume would also have direct impact on the food system.



Despite early concerns, restrictions, and technological hurdles surrounding space food development, adequate and acceptable diets were formulated and made available in sufficient time to accommodate the needs of man in space. The earliest food systems used in the Project Mercury flights and the short duration Gemini Program flights resembled military survival rations. For the first long term flight, the two-week Gemini 7 mission, nutritional criteria became important considerations and began to constrain food system designers. Adequate provisions for energy and nutrient, had to be made within an exceedingly small weight and volume envelope. This food system envelope, about .77 kg per man per day (1.7 pounds) and 1802 cm3 per man per day (110 cubic inches), also had to allow for all packaging materials needed to protect foods.

Because water produced as a by-product of fuel cell operation in the Gemini Spacecraft could be made available, it became highly attractive from a food acceptance and weight savings standpoint to use dehydrated foods that could be reconstituted in flight. This was the departure point for the development of the Apollo food system, and systematic improvements were subsequently made as technology became available and the application was feasible.



Apollo food system technology evolved over a considerable period of time, with the aid of efforts from the U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory Program, the U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, industry, and universities. The earliest “space foods” were bite-sized foods suitable for eating with one’s fingers, and pureed foods, squeezed directly into the mouth from flexible metal toothpaste-type tubes. Extensive modifications in food and food packaging were made throughout Project Mercury and the Gemini and Apollo Programs. Modifications of the food system were especially necessary during the Apollo Program for the following reasons.

1. Inflight food consumption proved inadequate to maintain nutritional balance and body weight.
2. Inflight nausea, anorexia, and undesirable physiological responses experienced by some crewmen were believed to be partly attributable to the foods.
3. Meal preparation and consumption required too much crew time and effort.
4. Water for reconstitution of dehydrated foods was unpalatable initially and contained undesirable amounts of dissolved gases.
5. Functional failures occurred in the rehydratable food packages in the early Apollo flights.

Before an Apollo launch, each prime and backup crewmember evaluated available flight foods and selected the food items he preferred. Then the foods were assembled into nutritionally balanced menus which were reviewed by crewmembers and nutritionists for maximum acceptability within nutritional constraints. Finally, the astronauts were briefed on spacecraft food stowage, preparation, and waste disposal.



Apollo 7: The food system for the first manned Apollo mission was basically that provided in the Gemini Program but featured a wider variety of foods.


Apollo 8: On Christmas day, 1968, during the first lunar orbital mission, the Apollo 8 astronauts opened packages of thermostabilized turkey and gravy and ate with spoons. This turkey entree required no water for rehydration because the normal water content (67 percent) had been retained. The thermally stabilized, ready-to-eat meal in a flexible can became known as a “wetpack,” a term used to differentiate this package from the dehydrated space foods that required the addition of water before consumption. The flexible packs were made from a laminate of polyester, aluminum foil, and polyolefin. The Apollo 8 crew also used a conventional teaspoon to eat some foods. and found that this mode of food consumption in weightlessness was quite satisfactory. This finding led to food package redesign which made the use of spoons much more convenient.


Apollo 9: The extensive use of wetpack containers without difficulty during this mission confirmed the potential for eating a substantial portion of food from open containers. The Apollo 9 crewmen experimented further by cutting open a rehydratable food package and eating its contents with a spoon; the experiment was successful. During Apollo 9, the Lunar Module Pilot experienced nausea and vomiting. Menu manipulation in flight to reduce the tendency for nausea represented the first use of real-time food selection for countering undesirable physiological responses to vestibular stimuli.


Apollo 10: the spoon-bowl package was introduced. The spoon-bowl package permitted convenient use of a spoon for consuming rehydrated foods. This modified package had a water inlet valve at one end and a large plastic-zippered opening on the other, which provided access to the rehydrated food with a spoon. Large pieces of dehydrated meat and vegetables could now be included to provide a more familiar and acceptable texture. Apollo 10 also marked the first successful use of conventional slices of fresh bread and sandwich spreads. This bread had a shelf life at Apollo vehicle temperatures for at least four weeks when packaged in a nitrogen atmosphere. Provision of the bread allowed crewmen to make sandwiches using meat salad spreads provided in separate containers. The sandwich spreads were preserved by thermal processing and final package closing in a hyperbaric chamber. The process enhances preservation of natural flavor and texture by reducing thermal processing time and temperature. The Apollo 10 crewmen reported some discomfort from a feeling of fullness and gastric awareness immediately after eating. This was troublesome to individual astronauts throughout the Apollo Program.


Apollo 11: New food items for the Apollo 11 flight included thermostabilized cheddar cheese spread and thermostabilized frankfurthers. Sandwich spreads were packaged in “401&quo; aluminum cans, which featured a pull-tab for easy removal of the entire top of the can. This can proved successful and eventually became the nucleus for the development of the open-dish eating concept implemented in the Skylab Program. A six-day supply of food and accessory items were stowed in pantry fashion to permit some food selection based on real-time preference and appetite and to supplement the meal packages if more food was desired by an individual. The foods included beverages, salads, soups, meals, breakfast items, desserts, and bite-sized foods. Primary food packages were placed in nonflammable overwraps, which served to keep food groups together and to partition the spacecraft food container for ease of retrieval in flight. Germicide tablets were provided for stabilization of any food residue remaining in the primary food packages.


Apollo 12: Freeze dehydrated scrambled eggs were introduced and were well accepted by the crew.

Apollo 13: The Apollo 13 food system included the first dehydrated natural orange juice. Orange juice had not been employed in space food systems previously because the dehydration methods available failed to prevent fusion of natural sugars with the formation of an insoluble mass.

Apollo 14: The Apollo 14 food system included an in-suit drinking device. This allowed the astronauts to better maintain fluid balance during extensive lunar surface operations. Foods were also examined for the presence of heavy metals. The only deviation from perfect performance in the food safety area was a failure in the early detection of mercury contamination in the Apollo 14 tuna fish salad. The tuna fish was removed from the food system shortly prior to launch, and a nutritionally equivalent substitute from the pantry was used to supplement the menu.


Apollo 15: Apollo 15 crewmen consumed solid food while working on the lunar surface. High nutrient density food bars were installed inside the full pressure suit. Figure 8 (below) shows a view of the neck ring area of the Apollo lunar surface pressure suit with the in-suit food bar and the in-suit drink device installed. The in-suit drink device was designed to provide water or fruit flavored beverages. This crew was the first to consume all of the mission food provided.


Apollo 16: Electrocardiographic recordings for Apollo 15 crewmen indicated occasional arrhythmias believed to be possibly linked to a potassium deficit. For Apollo 16 grape drink, orange drink, pineapple-orange drink, pineapple-grapefruit drink, grapefruit with sugar, and cocoa were fortified with potassium gluconate, for an average daily inflight potassium intake of approximately 100 mEq. Real-time adjustments in nutrition were applied by menu rearrangements to counteract the gastrointestinal awareness reported by one crewmember and believed to be associated with dietary potassium intake.


Apollo 17: In addition to a liberal usage of previously described improved foods, the Apollo 17 system was modified by the inclusion of shelf-stable ham steak that had been sterilized by exposure to cobalt-60 gamma irradiation (3.7 megarads). The Apollo 17 food system also incorporated a fruit cake that provided complete nutrition in shelf-stable, intermediate-moisture, ready-to-eat form. Both proved to be highly acceptable to the crewmen. This type of intermediate-moisture food was included in the Skylab contingency food system and was later evaluated and used in the Space Shuttle food program. –– Malcolm C. Smith, D.V.M., N.D. Heidelbaugh, V.M.D., Paul C. Rambaut, Sc.D., R.M. Rapp, Harry O. Wheeler, Ph.D.


Space Shuttle/International Space Station: Although most people rarely consider what the three people who live on the International Space Station are going to have for dinner, food scientists in Houston spend their days over what their astronauts eat. More than 400 people have shot into space since 1961, and none have eaten better than the astronauts in the space station, said Vickie Kloeris, who has been with the space food program for 21 years. “We have so much more variety,” Ms. Kloeris said. “You’re going to have a fair number of meat-and-potatoes guys, but we’ve been incorporating more ethnic food.” A French chef has also gotten into the space food game, working on some canned meals expected to debut in the fall. It is the first time that the European Union is contributing to a space menu jointly supplied by Russia and the United States.’ (read the totality)


Buy astronaut food

‘Eat what they eat on the International Space Station – real space food! These food items are created and manufactured for the astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station by our parent company, SPACEHAB/ Johnson Engineering. The foods are fully hydrated and ready to eat – no longer do the astronauts have to survive on just dehydrated food. All have passed stringent NASA guidelines and each is packaged to exact NASA specifications and then shipped exactly as it ships to the space station (minus the velcro to keep it from floating away – you can glue your own velcro strips to the package is you would like!). Each package has a five year shelf life and contains one average serving. Perfect for ‘show and tell,’ camping trips, college dorm rooms and more…just open and eat.’


Astronaut Ice Cream: This freeze-dried snack was created for use onboard real space missions. Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry, all in one bar. Great for parties, class projects and as a special treat. No refrigeration required. $2.95



Chicken and Rice Space Meal: Our products are manufactured by the same company that supplies freeze-dried foods to NASA for the Space Shuttle missions. This space meal includes chicken and rice in a savory sauce, accented with pimientos. Just add hot water, stir, and your meal is ready to serve. $7.95


Astronaut Food Edu-Sci Ltd.: Freeze-Dried, Ready-To-Eat, Space Food. Enjoy your food just as the Astronauts do – the freeze-dried way! Astronaut Ice Cream®, as well as other freeze-dried food items such as Astronaut Strawberries, Astronaut Peaches, Astronaut Bananas and Astronaut Cinnamon Apple Wedges, have been aboard space missions since the early Mercury Missions. The foods continue to be used by Astronauts on NASA missions today.


Astronaut food in action

Eating tea with chopsticks on the ISS

Eating peanut butter and honey on the ISS

Drinking water on the ISS

Water boiling in space

Brushing one’s teeth on the ISS

Space food sticks commercial

Sputnik cosmonaut displays the food he ate in space




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, I would have been very surprised if you didn’t know his work. Let me guess, Laura Nyro, yesterday, … ‘Save the Country’? *click* I was right! And it’s from my very favorite of her albums, ‘New York Tendaberry’, thank you. And for the link to the piece on Gary’s book. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. It’s snowing here! Glory be to g*d! Hope you found the Yalkut films interesting. Yes, relief on the producer front. Agreed, thanks in huge part, but not only, to the MAGA cap wearing teen trigger, my Facebook feed has been the most near insufferable it has been in a while, which is saying something. ** Misanthrope, Hi. In the case of yesterday, not knowing his stuff previously is very understandable. It has always seemed in your descriptions of LPS’s self-destructive things that peer pressure and a related need to want to seem cool and strong, etc., is a big culprit. That shit does pass in time, obviously, but one hopes that time is almost over. Sounds like you had a nice weekend, yeah. It’s snowing here finally. Of course I have to tromp around in it running errands, so the bliss may be short lived. ** Jeff J, Hey, Jeff! Great to see you, bud! Man oh man, it’s been heady and mega-heartening to see the crazy great reception of your novel going on. Wow. I hope you’re luxuriating in that. I have extreme interest in that post you propose, yes! I would be thrilled and really grateful. I love Roussel to bits, as you know, and The Song Cave too, as you probably know, so, yes! Please! Great! I’ve seen, I think, three or maybe four episodes of ‘The Owl’s Legacy’, and it’s deeply fantastic. Excellent news about the DVD release. I’ll see what the deal is over here. Listen, I’ve known Michael forever and been on his show many times, and I’m still rather helplessly dizzied by his attention to my things. It’s very intimidating. But I thought you fielded him very well. Yes, Michael is coming to see ‘PGL’ in LA, which I’m thrilled about, and we have plans to hang out, so that’s wonderful. And thank you so much for helping to re-hook us up email-wise. ** Dominik, Hi, D! Giant yay on the new SCAB’s coming together! Can not wait! You started with ‘The Pale King’, Interesting. I’m a huger than huge fan of his writing. His sentences make my jaw hit the floor. His non-fiction is fantastic if you want to go further. I’d suggest starting with ‘A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again’ if you do. We made four proposal posters yesterday and sent them to our producer and distributor, and they liked the one we like the best, so that’s cool. We need to finesse the design now, that’s all. We’ll probably make the new trailer when we get back from London. I get from back there on Thursday night. It’s a quickie. Thank you for the good wishes. Have a swell week! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I actually did see pix of that Pettibon couture just this morning. Nuts! ** Kyler, Hi, K. Thanks, man. Well, I think it’ll play in a theater in NYC first, and the DVD will follow. In the spring sometime maybe? I’m not sure. Well, I can pop off to London when the popping in bankrolled, at least, which is, yes, a boon. ** JM, Ha ha, whoa. I wonder if he was the heir to the probiotic milk fortune? Bon day. ** Nik, Ha, cool, about the photo. Well, the thing with the producers, it’s not hugely uncommon. I’m not entirely sure that a bunch of the publishers of my books have really understood my novels either. Ultimately you just hope they support it even if they don’t get it, and, so far, that seems to be the case with the TV producers. Your strategy about how the stories can connect sounds really sensible to me. Definitely nothing to stress about. Oh, I think I just meant that writers don’t always see playing and experimenting while feeling unnatural about the pursuit as ultimately a matter of them developing and furthering their skills, and that the lack of comfort is instructive rather than just self-incriminating. Fear is stupid, and failing is just what happens sometimes, basically. You can send it to this email: denniscooper72@outlook.com. Thanks, man. The London thing should be rewarding and fun, I think. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, man. Cool, thank you for investigating the Yalkut and the other recent posts. Film school! Obviously, I’ll be a big encourager about that move. I always thought of school as just creating a proximity to helpful facilities and thoughtful attention and potential peers. Mm, I think so about getting riveted to a single work or body of work, yes. I can’t think of examples. People tell me I was relentless about Rimbaud at a certain point in my life. Anyway, I think that focus is surely important, and I would dig in while it lasts and think of it as a gift. Excellent, and very best of luck on the poems and the submission! ** Right. Today’s weird-ish post is the oldest post I’ve ever restored. It’s literally from 12 years ago, and I suspect it seems its age, and I will be amazed if any of its links still work, but, I don’t know. Just a whim. I head off to London tomorrow, but I think I will have time to do a quick p.s. in the morning before I split, so I will see you then.


  1. Haha nothing parted that night. Ran into my Bob ghost and my friend with 6 personalities, so before you know it, I had the Burroughs virus and was thrown on the street. “Love is on the way,” as they say. All the best with London-town. I feel like my relationship with food has improved. My last trip to Paris sealed the deal with French cuisine. I almost totally get it now. American cuisine and I are still dancing. I only eat microwave food. Really want to try some Ethiopian restaurants. Shellfish is the Florida thing. Astronaught strawberries are the bestest, almost as good as pudding roll-ups. Mmm. Bon voyage

  2. VIGGO GOT NOMINATED “BEST ACTOR” FOR “THE GREEN BOOK”!!!! Would love for him to win the Oscar but it’ll probably go to the egregious hamming of Bradley Cooper.

    To become an astronaut is to find oneself reduced to infanthood once again. Everything in space is “Baby Food.”

  3. when I was a kid (or, an even younger kid) I wanted to be an astronaut until I saw the food they were served up and this is just a reminder of that. Then I wanted to be an archaeologist, I used to know how to read hieroglyph, actually. Now I want to be…..exactly what I am right now, which means I’m doing pretty well, I think. This year looks set to be a loaded one. I should by the Astro ice cream. Next year you could do a space buche instead of a baked buche lineup. 😉

  4. Corey Heiferman

    January 22, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    This was just what I needed after a day largely spent figuring out how to minimize the screwing over I receive as a person who gets taxed by two countries (it’d probably be easier if I were an astronaut). Re-watched Space Odyssey recently and I love the way Kubrick and his team do the space food in the middle and contrast it with the apes eating raw meat at the beginning and the trippy fine dining at the end.

    Thank you for the good wishes. Enjoy London. And please send a word of appreciation to Michael Silverblatt from a big fan. Among the many gifts he’s given me through the show was alerting me to your existence.

  5. Hey D!

    Lol, this post is so ancient, it’s cool to see the prototype of the format you use and how it still applies in a bunch of ways.
    Yeah, ‘lack of comfort being instructive’ makes a ton of sense, thanks. I’m definitely finding this break that the stories that seem the most obscure and confused when I write them are the hardest to bring into focus, but also the most interesting when they do come into focus. I don’t know if that’s always gonna be the case, but it’s interesting right now. Yeah, fear, might as well cut that shit out haha. I sent the story to you just now. I look forward to hearing what you think!!
    How is PGL work been? Also, I’m a ridiculously slow reader, so I just finished “Journey to the end of the Night”, and, yeah, it’s totally incredible. I’m probably gonna read “Installment plan” sometime in the next few months. Are his books after that any good? I know all the following ones were written after people stopped reading him. Just wondering. You read anything good lately?
    Safe travels!

  6. By eerie coincidence there’s a controversy on Twitter today about astronauts eating food in space that includes this vintage photo of a guy eating toast in a bizarre way. He must have gone up there with dreams of advancing the cause for mankind but he ends up being a joke on social media, that’s the human condition right there.

    @ DC, while you’re at the ICA you’ll maybe see a chap there named Steven Cairns who’s their curator of artists’ film. He’s a fellow Dundee alumnus and a friend of mine, so do please say hi from me if your paths cross at any point.

  7. hello dennis (& everyone)!! i disappeared again, sorry. i hope PGL goes well tomorrow! i’ll leave a proper message soon but just dropping by to say that, though i’m not free for the screening, i’ll be knocking round london after 3.45 if you are at a loose end beforehand (i’m sure you have your plans though) — at any rate, let England treat you well!

  8. Hey Dennis, I might like to go to Mars, but don’t know if I could eat the food. Cool that New York Tendaberry was your fave Laura album, mine too, I think. Someone taught me how to play her piano riff (which started off slow and got faster and faster) from “Upstairs By a Chinese Lamp.” I loved playing it on any piano I could find at the time. Years later, I played a recurring EMT on the soap opera “All My Children” – and the casting director was Eli Tray, very nice guy – Laura named her song “Eli’s Comin” after him when he was a baby, son of her good friend. So I knew the original Eli! Have a good trip and screening in London.

  9. I’ve heard Malkmus’ “Viktor Borgia,” the first single from GROOVE DENIED, and while I hate to say this, I understand why Matador had second thoughts about releasing the album. It seems joky (which has often been a part of Pavement and the Jicks’ aesthetic, but here it feels smirky and flat) and comes across as half-hearted slumming (especially in a context where I feel like I’ve read a hundred interviews with musicians who say “my new album is really experimental, it’s all electronic” – there’s a lot of competition for this aesthetic.)

    I can’t stand Sandmann or the way the corporate media is trying to make him look good, but American racism shouldn’t be reduced to one teenage boy’s smirk. Social media has taken a complex problem and boiled it down to one image (or, at most, one video.) Given the number of people engaging in this pile-on (which included me on Saturday), I’m sure at least a few of them have skeletons in their closet. I share the anger behind this, but I feel like it’s going to evaporate in a few days while right now a lot of people feel like they’re engaging in serious protest by posting on Twitter about how punchable Sandmann’s face is. By June, he will be a meme while the same problems that led to this incident persist unchecked. I know you don’t like people talking about politics here, but America is fucking maddening now, and I don’t exactly know where to try and talk about this in a way that’s nuanced without being Enlightened Centrism, without touching off a shitstorm.

  10. 130000 photos by Andy are now on-line!

    Kaye Ballard R.I.P. She had just attended the premiere of a new documentary about her career when she became ill, went home, went into a coma and passed away at 91. A great star and a great lesbian.

  11. Dennis, I wonder where the freeze-dried semen is. Hmm…

    Or freeze-dried butthole…

    Anyway, Dennis, EMBRACE the snow. Enjoy it. Tromp and enjoy tromping.

    Yeah, I think LPS is really starved for attention in some ways and getting bad attention is easier and just as good as good attention for him. Or something like that. Granted, we’ve doted on the boy most of his life. I guess our attention isn’t good enough or important enough or he just takes it for granted and it’s just oh so blase.

    Yepperz, a good weekend. I’m going to call my mom’s doc up tomorrow and try to get a second opinion on this at-least-2-months-long cough I’ve had. Fucking woke up at 4 a.m. this morning and coughed for an hour. Ugh.

    I’ve got to go over my latest chapter once more tomorrow night and then on to the next, which I’ve already written the first few line for. Tonight was all about filling out this fucking paperwork to end the guardianship. LPS goes to court on the 29th. Well, it’s another intake hearing. We’ll see what happens there.

  12. D,

    Your explanations of the use of the word langue makes more sense now due to your generous reply. I still think it’s a poetics that would fit better but there’s a reason I’m not an editor, St. Cats. education aside.

    Your recent posts on Lovecraft and AOS have reminded me of my dad who loved Lovercraft’s writing and introduced us to Crowley, which meant at least I found out about AOS’s art around 16. My father is currently dying of dementia (Lewy body) at the moment. I keep on insisting to my mom to wear her perfume when she visits him in the nursing home but she refuses. As you may know I studied (at CS) and make my own perfume, so I have a kit of diluted essential oils to bring down to him, should I ever visit Whoelando again save for his funeral, as he has lost most sense except for smell which, with hearing, are the last to go in this disease progression.

    He wasn’t a good man. There are pictures of me he took that you would find unbelievable esp. since I never mentioned them in it the last 25 years. I was between 2-5. About 5 years ago said pictures were discovered by my mom which I think she tossed. But he’s my dad and I mourn his mental loss. One of the many things that are coming out of 12 years of therapy with a single doctor.

    When you come to NYC, Jarrod and I will do everything to see you again this spring. Just keep us updated

    With much heart,

  13. Wow, did I just mention that publicly?! Whatever, interrobang on purpose.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

© 2021 DC's

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑