Sushi: The latest food in space
Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi dons a chef's hat and creates the first handmade sushi roll in zero gravity.
Mon, Mar 01, 2010 at 07:49 PM
WEIGHTLESS TRICKS: Astronauts play with zero gravity on the space station. (Photo: ZUMA Press)
Recently, we heard about Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi performing winter Olympics in space. Noguchi, on board the $100 billion International Space Station, put on a pair of space skis for his slalom and jump events. Now he’s wowing the world with more weightless tricks. Space.com reports that Naguchi recently made sushi on board the space station, complete with chef’s hat and seaweed rolls.
Noguchi, who has lived aboard the space station since December, represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Last week, he conducted a space-to-ground video interview with Japanese TV reporters. Wearing a chef’s hat and wielding a sharp knife, Noguchi fashioned seaweed, rice and salmon into the world’s first handmade sushi roll in zero gravity. As Noguchi told reporters, "You have a gourmet cooking corner in your show, too, so I would actually like to cook here for you." Then he whipped together the weightless sushi before popping it in his mouth.
The history of food in space is fun and complex. Astronauts’ meals must be properly planned from amount to storage to disposal. And then there are gravity issues. For instance, workers aboard the space station avoid bread because the crumbs prove pesky in weightlessness. They also cannot have salt or pepper in their usual form because of the danger that salt flakes could clog air vents, contaminate equipment or even get stuck in an astronaut's extremities. In 2007, American astronaut Sunita Williams took a tube of wasabi to the space station in 2007. But as Space.com reports, it got loose and stuck to the walls. William’s green condiment was then banished to a cargo ship.
Luckily, edibles in space have improved since the time astronauts ate bite-sized cubes, powders and substances squeezed from aluminum tubes. Today space diets are designed to give each space flyer the recommended dietary allowances of vitamins and minerals necessary to work in space. They even have a supply of “safe haven” food which allows them to eat for 22 days, should there be a failure of equipment. Astronauts generally bring fruits, nuts, peanut butter, chicken, beef, seafood, candy, brownies and more. Their drinks range from tea, juice, coffee and lemonade. (No word on if they still drink Tang.)
NASA also tries to honor requests for specific space delicacies. In 2007, astronaut Peggy Whitson requested re-hydrated hamburger patties and dinner rolls. She spent part of her mission making space hamburgers for the crew. Astronaut Don Pettit spent two weeks in space in 2008. During this time, he invented a zero gravity coffee cup so he could keep up with his caffeine fix in space.
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