Texas A&M Makes Food Fit for Outer Space

The Space Food Research Facility at Texas A&M is developing a new fish stew to send up on the International Space Station. 6 August 2014
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TEXAS A&M - Fueling the expanding space frontier starts right here in College Station.

Specifically, in a non-descript building on the A&M campus.

In that building on Discovery Drive is a kitchen.

But there's something different about this culinary space.

"This facility is actually a collaboration between Texas A&M, NASA, and [a] main contractor that handles the bioastronautics contract for NASA," said Maya Cooper with the Space Food Research Facility.

That's a fancy way of saying they make food for astronauts

At the Space Food Research Facility, products go from the pantry to pouches. From there, they go to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and then from there...on to space.

Welcome to the future of space food. About 60 products are currently made here and the scientists can develop between 7 and 9 new dishes each year.

"We're actually working on a new product. It's a Turkish Fish Stew. It's in response to a request to add more fish products to the current space food menu," Cooper said.

You may have heard of freeze-dried food. This is another type.

"This facility, because of the equipment here, is really focused on making the thermal stabilized foods, which compose about one third of the total foods that we send up into space."

That means they treat the food with heat to kill the bacteria.

Astronauts aren't the only ones to benefit from the work here...

"We have student workers that come in here and actually help us prepare the food, so they're getting hands-on food processing experience."

Students helping astronauts expand the frontier of space.