Chefs and Astronauts May Soon Become One

Wonder what astronauts are eating these days? Well, it's not just the dry ice cream we remember as kids; those astronauts traveling to Mars are about to get a diet that's a whole lot healthier and more convenient.  For those chefs that traded in their dreams of being an astronaut someday, they might now get the chance to do both dreams jobs by traveling to Mars with future astronauts.

Chefs in space, you ask? The concept is somewhat simple; bring chefs and gardeners to Mars to enable astronauts to enjoy a tasty meal millions of miles away. As noted in Graham Smith's "Farming their Way to Mars" Dr. Maya Cooper from NASA's Space Food Systems Laboratory in Houston, Texas states "a five-year mission to Mars would require nearly 7,000lb of food per person." Clearly a substantial amount of food, bringing a few chefs on the Mars mission will help ease the food preparation needs for the astronauts during their time in space.

With various notions of how the astronauts will eat in future space missions, a few ideas have come under consideration. One is for astronauts to "grow their own food in a hi-tech 'kitchen garden". As this seems like an ingenious idea, it needs to be developed a little more as astronauts would need to understand the essence of cooking with their hi-tech kitchen garden. This idea might just be the way to get chefs as one of the first other professionals on Mars.

Dr. Maya Cooper develops the concept further, "we are looking at the possibility of implementing a bio-regenerative system that would involve growing crops in space and possibly shipping some bulk commodities to a Mars habitat as well. This scenario involves much more food processing and meal preparation than the current food system developed for the space shuttles and the International Space Station." In other words, bio-regenerative systems involve growing 'multi-task' plants that release oxygen and provide food for astronauts. Scientists have found potential crops that will provide these necessities: bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, fresh herbs, green onions, lettuce, radishes, spinach, and strawberries. With all the technology out there, there has to be a way to create this scenario to create a little cooking fun in space using these ten ingredients.

If this scenario isn't used, there is another option of "longer shelf-life provisions for an extended stay on Mars to be sent in unmanned spacecrafts ahead of the human explorers." To that, we say it's time to break free of the pre-packaged foods that astronauts have to eat and introduce chefs into the next frontier to create healthy and delicious meals to all those in space. Talk about bringing the culinary scene to the next level!

Needless to say, scientists are developing unique ways to make dining in space more beneficial to the astronauts by using ingredients that provides oxygen, and hopefully we'll soon see chefs up in space helping them prepare those same foods. We bet chefs never thought of someday working in a space station when they were entering culinary school; but it may just be the next hottest restaurant to work for.

Photo: jking89