10/14/2022

Making A Meal Fit For An Astronaut

12:19 minutes

two men float in 0 gravity aboard the international space station, in a room full of pipes and wiring.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly (right) gives a thumbs-up to the snack he’s eating aboard the International Space Station. Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (left) seems to agree it’s tasty. Credit: NASA

Life on the International Space Station throws some wrenches into how food and eating work. There’s very little gravity, after all. And there are big differences between nutritional needs on Earth and in space.

Astronauts must exercise two hours each day on the International Space Station to prevent bone and muscle loss, meaning daily caloric intake needs to be somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 calories. Sodium must also be reduced, as an astronaut’s body sheds less of it in space. Astronauts also have an increased need for Vitamin D, as their skin isn’t able to create it from sunlight as people on Earth do.

So, how do all these limitations affect the food astronauts eat? Joining guest host Kathleen Davis to answer these gustatory questions is Xulei Wu, food systems manager for the International Space Station in Houston, Texas.


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Segment Guests

Xulei Wu

Xulei Wu is Food Systems Manager for the International Space Station at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Segment Transcript

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About Kathleen Davis

Kathleen Davis is a producer at Science Friday, which means she spends the week brainstorming, researching, and writing, typically in that order. She’s a big fan of stories related to strange animal facts and dystopian technology.

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Ira Flatow is the host and executive producer of Science FridayHis green thumb has revived many an office plant at death’s door.

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