NASA is trying to produce pizzas for its astronauts, but things are more complicated than on Earth.
For more than 20 years, the International Space Station has been continuously inhabited. Within the latter, astronauts from around the world take turns and revolve around the Earth, about 400 kilometers from our heads. With ever longer trips, and stays currently of six months, the nutrition of astronauts is necessarily a key issue for the government space agencies responsible for this trip.
If in 2001 a communication action allowed Pizza Hut to send pizzas into space, this experience cannot be repeated every morning and the astronauts must eat something other than this typical Italian dish. It must be said that food in space is not very cheerful. Astronauts are indeed prohibited from ice cream, alcohol, but also bread and more generally anything that could produce crumbs.
Pizza by 3D printer: a hope quickly disappointed
It is this reason that partly explains the absence of pizza in the diet of astronauts. For Vickie Kloeris, former head of ISS food systems for NASA, the few prototypes never “lived up to expectations”. But in 2013, hope is reborn for the astronauts. NASA concerned about the self-sufficiency of its astronauts has just signed a contract with the company Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC). The latter must be able to build a 3D printer to feed the astronauts by making small dishes on demand.
Luckily for the astronauts, the easiest dish to produce for this somewhat special printer is pizza. Round, made of superimposed layers, the pizza is the perfect dish for the 3D printer. If NASA’s first round of funding had made it possible to offer “pizza time” to astronauts on the ISS, the American space agency never followed up on this idea.
Space pizza, lots of tape and little taste
Today there is a solution for astronauts to have the right, too, to their pizza. This is particularly the case of the “53″ crew of the ISS, sent into space by NASA in 2017. With them, the American space agency brought in a large quantity of prefabricated dough for making pizza.
After hours of unappetizing cooking – done with duct tape so nothing flies away – the astronauts were able to eat a meal “soft and not really better than the rest”. Although the preparations have been reheated, impossible to have all the crunch of an earthly pizza dough. The result was therefore below the expectations of NASA, which does not seem to want to reproduce the experiment earlier.