Astronauts Take Cans to Study Food in Space

NASA astronauts Gus Grissom and John Young used their space station spoons to pick up peppers in orbit on July 11. This marks the first time astronauts from outside of Earth have used their waste to study food on the ISS. It was taken using a pair of pincers to pry open and open peppers, a procedure NASA engineers say took three hours. No such adventurous experiment has ever been attempted in the history of food in space.

“The astronauts found that picking up the peppers and measuring them gave a nice feeling, but they didn’t really like getting the flesh off,” said Ed Au, head of the Center for Analysis and Learning in Engineering (CALEx), a sister organization of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, according to a Facebook post by CALEx. “They asked for assistance and they were helped.” NASA’s goal is to grow some crops on the ISS that astronauts could eat during a short space mission, be it the ISS orbiting 200 miles above Earth or even an asteroid. Some of the peas grown onboard last year will be returned to Earth for space enthusiasts to pick up. Food crops grown on the ISS do have some downsides for astronauts, such as their shelf life, which can only last for 10 years.

The space mission was the first mission NASA carried out with its Taper Spoon. This spork-like device can be packed inside a space capsule, making it easier for astronauts to access food. Taper Spoon was tested in 2014 and 2017 aboard the ISS, but the astronauts have never used it to extract meat or other foods from food-prepared patties. Young and Grissom had to make their own attempt to collect the peppers. “If you don’t come back to pack the patties properly, your pepper will just fall to the ground,” Grissom said. “So we made sure we didn’t forget to do that before we tried that.” A video of Young and Grissom is posted below:

Hopefully this taste test will be the beginning of success for astronauts on the space station.

You can hear more from the astronauts during a NASA interview:

This story originated at

Leave a Comment