Tech by VICE

NASA Is Making Soylent-Like Food Bars For Astronauts

Flavors include "ginger vanilla" and "barbeque nut."

by Madison Margolin
Nov 23 2016, 4:52pm

Image: NASA Johnson/YouTube

Foodies looking for a hot, scrumptious meal are better off on planet Earth. For the astronauts who will be aboard NASA's new Orion crew capsule when it embarks on its historic first crewed mission (currently targeted as early as 2018), the agency is working on new, nutritious food bars to keep them fed. In a way, they are like NASA's version of the infamous "Soylent bars" (though hopefully NASA's will go down smoother and with fewer reported indigestion problems.)

The crew members need enough food for up to two weeks, which could potentially be a lot of extra mass and volume on board the mission. Hence, the meal replacement bars that food scientists at NASA are developing in order to pack whole a lot of nourishment into tiny, portable, edible, and hopefully, flavorful bites.

In this NASA Johnson Space Center YouTube video, food scientist Takiyah Sirmons and Orion's deputy health and medical technical authority, Jessica Vos, survey the different meal replacement bars. So far, the flavors include banana nut, orange cranberry, ginger vanilla, and barbeque nut, while each bar ranges from about 700 to 800 calories. The idea, as the video suggests, is to keep the crew weight on, but the Orion weight off.

Currently, human studies are underway to determine how often people could eat these bars—every day, every five days, or not at all, if they don't like them.

Meanwhile, for the rest of us who are tired of cooking (or don't know how), you can always eat like an astronaut right here on Earth. Full calorie, full nutrient meals that take a less than a minute to eat are available for order, and probably a better option than chips and junk food. Perhaps this is where the age old distinction of "live to eat" versus "eat to live" comes in.

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.

Space Travel
motherboard show
human spaceflight
human space exploration
meal replacement