The Space Food Systems Laboratory is a multipurpose laboratory responsible for space food and package research and development. This facility designs, develops, evaluates and produces flight food, menus, packaging, and food-related ancillary hardware for Shuttle, Space Station, and Advanced Food Systems. Capabilities of this facility include: food product development, food preservation technology, sensory evaluation, menu planning, freeze dehydration, blast freezing, package development, fabrication and design of packaging equipment, physical testing of packages and materials, and modified and controlled atmosphere packaging.
Space Mission / Purpose:
Evidence strongly supports the role of nutrition in maintaining the health and optimal performance of astronauts during space flights and return to Earth. The key to providing good nutrition in support of human space flight is to provide high-quality food products that are appetizing, nutritious, and safe and easy to prepare and eat. The mission of the Space Food Systems Laboratory is to provide high-quality flight food systems that are convenient, compatible with each crew member’s physiological and psychological requirements, meet spacecraft stowage and galley interface requirements, and are easy to prepare and eat in the weightlessness of space.
Technical Specifications of Facility:
The Space Food Systems Laboratory is located in Building 17 at Johnson Space Center and is comprised of four laboratories: a Test Kitchen, fully equipped with sensory testing capabilities; a Food Processing Laboratory (Pilot Plant); a Food Packaging Laboratory; and an Analytical Laboratory. The Space Food Systems Laboratory has the capability to fabricate custom-molded flight food containers; process foods using a variety of stabilization techniques, including freezing and freeze-drying; package foods in a nitrogen environment for long-term storage; provide long-term controlled environment storage for processed foods; conduct physical and sensory analyses of food; evaluate prototype and flight food preparation hardware; and, develop food preparation and serving techniques for space flight.
For more information about Space Food, see the Advanced Food Technology Project webpage.