If you’re looking for literal high-end food, space is evidently the place as two different delectable payloads shot up to the International Space Station (ISS) over the weekend. A Cygnus rocket launched on November 2 and successfully docked with ISS today carrying a bottle of wine from Europe and a cookie-baking oven from the U.S., all in the name of (delicious) science.
TechCrunch reports that like a celestial sommelier, the French startup Space Cargo Unlimited sent a samples of red wine to the space station. Sadly, astronauts won’t be able to enjoy this astro wine, but instead just have to keep it up in space for 12 months before it’s sent back down to Earth. According to Quartz, this space faring wine mission is formally called “Mission WISE, for Vitis Vinum in Spatium Experimentia” and will study how exposure to space radiation and being in a state of constant free-fall impacts biological aging processes.
It might be a little on-the-nose that a French startup sends up wine while an American company figures out how to bake chocolate chip cookies in space, but here we are.
Space.com writes that typically on the space station, food is heated or reheated via hot water. The new oven, which was built through a collaboration between Zero G Kitchen and Nanoracks, is actually quite fascinating. It’s a cylindrical chamber, and food is held in special silicone trays with 40 micron filters that allow heat and steam to escape and are held in aluminum frames so they can be securely racked. It’s quite complicated, and I recommend reading all the details on Zero G’s site.
As rich entrepreneurs like Elon Musk with his SpaceX and Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin push space flight with an eye towards traveling to Mars, there are a number of startups shooting for the culinary stars. Last month, Aleph Farms said it had grown small scale cell cultured muscle tissue aboard the ISS. Space Roasters wants to roast coffee beans using the heat of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, and Australian company Vostok Space Beer is creating, well, beer that can be imbibed in space.
Operating on a much bigger scale is a company like Japan’s Space Food X, which is a consortium of 30 technology and food companies as well as universities and investment firms, all working to figure out the daunting task of food production in space.
One thing’s for sure, any space-faring journey to Mars is going to require meals paired with more than a few bottles of Pinot to help pass the time.