Washington: It was a high-flying, freeze-dried turkey time for six astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) as most Americans roasted turkeys and emptied cranberry sauce out of cans to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
The menu included traditional holiday fare with a space-food flair - irradiated smoked turkey, thermostabilized candied yams and freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms.
For space station Expedition 42 crew commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, flight engineer Terry Virts, flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova and flight engineer Samantha Cristoforetti, the meal also featured NASA’s own freeze-dried cornbread dressing.
Dessert featured thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler.
Station food generally resembles that, for the most part, flown in space since the inception of the Space Shuttle Program some 30 years ago.
NASA is researching and developing ways to extend the shelf-life of food needed for deep space missions such as those to Mars and to minimise the volume of packaging.
The agency also is using the ISS as a laboratory to learn how to grow plants such as
lettuce in space.
“Future crew members spending Thanksgiving in space may have one traditional staple, fresh sweet potatoes. The sweet potato may be one of the crops chosen for crews to grow on deep space missions. It provides an important energy source - carbohydrate - as well as beta-carotene,” the US space agency said in a statement.
Scientists believe most food items in the transit food system on future deep space missions will resemble those used on the station.
Advanced processing and packaging methods will be needed to provide extended shelf lives and improved nutrition for the longer missions.
Stored food and salad crops will be used in the early stages of planetary stays until permanent living bases are constructed, the statement added.