Food for the body. And for the soul.

Mediet tray contents of dried tomatoes, bread, cheese, peaches and chocolate

To help astronauts cope with the challenges of space flight, nutritional technology has become a core competency at ESA. When you’re a long way from home, and takeout is not an option, food must do more than nourish you. Even more so than on Earth, a meal break is a rare opportunity to relax from the hard pace of life on board the Space Station. But unlike Earth, there’s no real kitchen to prepare something special, and no fresh ingredients either. Creating dishes that are attractive, tasty, and varied while supplying the human body with all its needs is essential. And a rare skill.

Nutritional science

The advancements in nutritional science that ESA has made bring benefits back here on Earth. But there’s a lot left to do. Why not use the unique environment of spaceflight to test your new food preservation techniques, new recipes, or new nutritional additives? For example, the Italian COOP company used ESA to test a revolutionary new food preservation technique based on exposing foodstuffs to very high pressure.

Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri performing the MEDIET experiment
Cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri performing the MEDIET experiment on the ISS

The experiment they designed with ESA’s help, called MEDIET, brought to space a variety of Mediterranean foods together with an innovative packaging system and an ergonomic food-tray. The result: fresh-tasting tomatoes, cheese and other food available in an easy-to-use packaging that works in weightlessness.

The new preservation technique proved its worth, keeping food tasting fresh after many months and preserving the fragile nutrients that get damaged by techniques such as pasteurisation. ESA’s endorsement is facilitating the techniques’ introduction in the food business.

Food testing

But sometimes, even the most balanced meals are not enough. Because astronauts cannot easily vary their diets, they consume a range of nutritional supplements. The ISS is thus an ideal place to test the validity and usefulness of functional foods and nutraceuticals, an aspect of growing interest in this highly competitive sector.

If you would like astronauts to pioneer your company’s nutritional technology on board the International Space Station or are interested in partnering with ESA, contact us today.

Read more:
Functional foods »»
Nutraceuticals »»

Last update: 19 October 2005

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