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Woman tries out space ready ramen -- Kyodo Photo
NASA purchases an expensive toilet system; JAXA approves a food catalog for astronauts aboard the ISS

NASA recently agreed to purchase a $19 million Russian-made toilet system for the U.S. portion of the International Space Station.  Even though the price tag sounds extremely high, NASA officials claim it is much cheaper to buy the system instead of building one from scratch.  Another advantage of buying the Russian system is that the astronauts aboard the ISS are already familiar with how to use the toilet system.

"It's akin to building a municipal treatment center on Earth," said Lynnette Madison, NASA spokesperson.

Space toilets look similar to the ones located on Earth, except leg restraints and thigh bars are used on the space toilets to make sure the astronauts can remain in place.  The system will be installed in the ISS sometime next year.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronauts now have 29 certified Japanese food products they can eat while they work onboard the International Space Station.  Manufactured by 12 different companies, the food menu includes instant ramen noodles, curry, powdered green tea, onigiri rice balls, and an assortment of candies and seasonings.

Astronauts currently stationed on the ISS eat food from the United States and Russian, though novelty foods from other nations are sometimes taken into space with manned shuttles or supply ships.

Deciding the types of food astronauts can eat while in space remains a rather tricky matter.  All food chosen to be on the ISS must meet certain criteria -- for example, it must endure extreme temperature changes, survive up to one year in storage at zero gravity, and should be able to endure the pressure on the ride into space.  The weightless atmosphere sometimes causes a loss of flavor, forcing manufacturers to make the foods stronger than Earth food.

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Foods really lose flavor?
By sc3252 on 7/8/2007 5:04:14 AM , Rating: 3
"The weightless atmosphere sometimes causes a loss of flavor, forcing manufacturers to make the foods stronger than Earth food."

That is really interesting that foods lose flavor when going into space. Does anyone have an idea of why that happens? Does it have something to do with the way the tongue tastes food, or that the food really does lose flavor?

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By oralpain on 7/8/2007 6:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
The food itself is obviously not changed to any significant degree by being in space.

I'm fairly certain that becasue the pressure inside the ISS is only 3-5 pounds per square inch that the aromas of food are significantly reduced, and since a good protion of taste is dependant on aroma...

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By Kindjal on 7/8/2007 7:29:55 AM , Rating: 2
Speaking of aroma, I wonder if farts are less stinky in space too?

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By Sahrin on 7/8/2007 9:10:07 AM , Rating: 2
Not less stinky, more.

Same concentration of particles with less air volume to dissipate in.


RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By Kindjal on 7/8/2007 2:51:01 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you are right!

"Interest in the causes of flatulence was spurred by high-altitude flight and the space program; the low atmospheric pressure, confined conditions, and stresses peculiar to those endeavours were cause for concern."

Plus, opening a window is a no-no.

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By Hawkido on 7/9/2007 11:34:31 AM , Rating: 2
Air scrubbers... Removes methane as well as CO2.

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By sandytheguy on 7/8/2007 5:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
According to wikipedia the ISS is at normal atmospheric pressure. I always thought the difficulty in making space food taste good was lack of freshness and the issue of food that contains a lot of water is too heavy, dehydrated food solves that problem.

RE: Foods really lose flavor?
By Hawkido on 7/9/2007 11:33:56 AM , Rating: 2
Without gravity the aroma would expand Spherically and not vertically (due to the food being warm) and thus not enter the nasal cavity which is positioned above the mouth for the smelling of aromas (smell is 80% of flavor)

Light a match on the spacestation and the flame would look like a dandilion puff because the heat would radiate in a spherical shape instead on ascending vertically due to gravity.

Ramen Noodles in Space!!!
By hellokeith on 7/8/2007 7:37:29 PM , Rating: 3
Haha. I wonder if the NASA/JAXA version of Ramen Noodles cost 5 for 99 cents???

Too bad the inventor of Ramen Noodles (he just died a few months back) didn't get to see his invention conquer the universe!

Ramen Noodles are perfect for space travel. They ***never*** go bad. They're easy to fix. And they probably taste better with a bit of cosmic radiation in the cup. :D

RE: Ramen Noodles in Space!!!
By kattanna on 7/9/2007 12:32:05 PM , Rating: 2
add some veg-all and its a complete meal...

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