SPI Group visits NASA food labs

At SPI Group, we are strong supporters of local IFT events – and we may have just been to our favorite events with the Alamo IFT section! We loved going to Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX to hear Dr. Shannon Walker discuss her experience with long duration space flight.

Dr. Walker described how she trained at the Cosmonaut training center in Russia, using training suits that weigh a couple of hundred pounds! They do their training in large pools where they will spend 6 hours underwater. After 3 years of training, Dr. Walker went to the International Space Station where she spent 6 months living and working.  She said that one thing that she loved was seeing 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets every day, since the International Space Station orbits the earth once every 90 minutes. She showed us her many photos taken from space including hurricanes and spectacular shots of Northern and Southern lights.

Since we are food scientists, we of course asked her about the food! She told us that there are approximately 200 different foods and beverages in the International Space Station pantry. The foods are mostly soft and have to stick together – the main issue is that the food can not have any crumbs at all since the crumbs could get in to the space station filter system.  She told us that they have to add salt and pepper in a liquid form, from a dropper bottle!

 

We were fortunate enough to tour both the Space Food Research Center at Texas A&M university, where they make retorted pouches, as well as the food lab at Johnson Space Center. Contact us for more details and photos of space food!