Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
NASA Education Science

NASA Sells Space Food, Shuttle Tiles To Schools 120

Posted by timothy
from the air-force-never-had-their-bake-sale dept.
iamrmani writes with word that NASA "is offering processed space shuttle tiles and astronaut food to eligible schools and universities to preserve history. The lightweight space shuttle tiles protected the shuttles from extreme temperatures when the orbiters re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, while space food was precooked such that refrigeration is not required and is ready to eat or could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating." I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general -- other than the ice cream, I've seen it only in museum displays.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

NASA Sells Space Food, Shuttle Tiles To Schools

Comments Filter:
  • by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @08:59AM (#37385848)

    I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general

    I suspect it probably costs more to produce than one could sell it for... and probably tastes like crap. Interested parties would buy it once for the novelty, then that would probably be it.

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general

      I suspect it probably costs more to produce than one could sell it for... and probably tastes like crap. Interested parties would buy it once for the novelty, then that would probably be it.

      I don't see why the processing would be THAT expensive. Hell, look at McDonalds french fries. Ever pull one out from under your car seat that is months old? Damn thing still looks like it just came out of the fryer. Who the hell needs freeze-dried NASA processing when we have nuclear grade McPreservatives...

      • by Anrego (830717) *

        I don't see why the processing would be THAT expensive.

        The cynic in me says they'd find a way. The legitimate stuff is probably produced to very high specifications and probably goes through some kind of rigorous certification process. For general consumption they could of course skip all that, but then as was said above by AC, it’s just freeze-dried food that is already readily available.

      • by Cryacin (657549)
        I have a friend who very seriously orders McDonalds quarter pounders exclusive to consume whilst driving. Why? Because when he drops it, it simply bounces. He picks it up, and continues to chow down on his *ahem* "tasty burger".
      • by bws111 (1216812)

        I think the official name for 'nuclear grade McPreservatives' is 'salt'.

        • by geekmux (1040042)

          I think the official name for 'nuclear grade McPreservatives' is 'salt'.

          I believe I have this stuff you call "salt" at home, as do 99% of other households. And yet, our food spoils normally.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Salt can't fully account for it. I salt my pepper mash to select which microbes take up residence, but it still ferments.

    • I suspect you are wrong. What the issue would be is that NASA doesn't produce this stuff, it pays contractors to develop it. And those contractors have the rights to the processes involved and it isn't like preserved food is cool and futuristic any more. It has been a long time since preserved food was such a novelty that people would pay a decent mark up for it (in the 19th century rich people used to serve horrid tinned meats because they were a novelty).

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      You already can. The ice cream and strawberries are available at any camping supply store often including Walmart. I am willing to bet at least a good bit of the space food is just camping food. If you want to eat like an Astronaut just got to the camping section of your local Walmart.

    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      If every adult male in China bought one item one time for $1, it would subsidize ~20% of the Webb telescope.

      • Half the guys over here live on $2 a day, so even $1 would be a lot out of their pockets. 8-(

        Now, if every adult male in the U.S. contributed $5, I could definitely go for that. It's about as good as the $3 campaign contributions on your taxes that you keep getting nagged about every year, and it would go to something that I could tell my kids about rather than how things used to be when the shuttle was still running and we could send our own astronauts to the ISS. [sighs]

        • Oh, man, if there were a way for me to contribute directly to NASA I would be all over that! I just sent my check to the Planetary Society, but it's not quite the same.

      • You seem to probably be making an elementary mistake. If you *sell* the food for $1, you are almost surely not *making* a dollar.

        The food costs something to grow, harvest, ship to the processing center to be turned into 'space food', the processing costs money, then it has to be packaged, shipped, then there needs to be some sort of retail or wholesale seller who actually distributes the product. So, there's a lot of hands in the cookie jar.

        It's hard to say if the costs would be less than $1 or not, but it'

    • by swb (14022)

      Aren't MREs that the military uses basically the same thing, minus whatever is done to suit the specific environment of low-Earth orbit?

      IIRC, MREs have a shelf life of about 10 years, require no refrigeration or reheating, although I think some come with heat tablets/packs that can warm the meals to make them more palatable.

      The there's the whole world of hiker/mountaineering food, which is probably somewhere between MREs and the kind of packaged stovetop meals you can buy at the grocery store.

      Besides whatev

      • There are other considerations for astronaut menus, like favouring food that does not crumb readily to stop floating crumbs clogging instruments (although possibly not so much these days). In addition, the zero gravity environment means your nasal membranes swell, which reduces your sensitivity to flavours, meaning that they season the food more heavily - it would probably veer to the other side of palatable here on earth.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Astronaut food doesn't have to last 10 years without refridgeration or heating, though. It only has to last a few months. Also, it can't be too liquid as liquids ball up and float away (they also break easily). Also, adding water isn't easy to do (lack of gravity means water doesn't really "pour").

          For something like a shuttle mission, they only had to last a couple of weeks or so (it's freshly prepared and packed). For ISS missions, it has to last a bit longer.

          Finally, astronauts often get to pick their men

      • by DrXym (126579)
        MREs are preserved food with the moisture intact. As the name suggests, they're ready to eat. It's basically tinned stuff except these days they ship in foil flat bags.

        Dehydrated food would have to be rehydrated (e.g. like a pot noodle). I'm assuming NASA prefer the latter because they don't want to be hauling a bunch of dead weight water up into space when they'd have systems for recycling it anyway. I doubt it tastes anywhere as nice and takes more time to prepare it.

        I think MREs would generally be be

      • by sjames (1099)

        The big thing for space food is that it not form crumbs.

    • by stiggle (649614)

      A better way to finance future missions would be to sell sticks with moon dust on one end - after all everyone wants the moon on a stick.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      actually - it's sounds pretty tasty. it's not like they take boxes of MREs.
      http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Food_for_Space_Flight.html [nasa.gov]

      not all of it is dehydrated... they have (irridiated) steaks

      scroll down for the base menu
      http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/reference/factsheets/food.html [nasa.gov]

      a week on the shuttle is manageable.. it's like camping.
      a months long stint on the ISS is a different story... for a mission of that duration, food becomes a significant factor in crew moral

      • by stewbee (1019450)
        As an ex submariner, I will add my $0.02. I would agree that the food on the sub wasn't too bad. It was certainly better than some of the other mess halls that I had eaten in, and I would attribute it to a few factors. The first one being was that I was probably never out to sea for more than three weeks between port visits. When we would visit a port we would always bring on fresh produce, milk, and meats. Also, the cooks only have to cook for about 120 men. This would mean that they could almost take thei
  • NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.
    • You obviously haven't watched "Independence Day". That $10,000 toliet seat is paying for our secret moon base on the dark side of the moon.
    • NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

      You're right, they should just go the Lowe's and pick up a toilet + seat that's on sale. No big deal, I'm sure it would all work fine in a low / zero Gravity environment.

      When you're working up there, certain things on the earth (that we take for granted) are a lot more complicated. When you have to custom build things to work up there, it's going to be obscenely expensive compared to mass-produced stuff for down here.

      And before you mention the $1million pen, that's just a myth. It was done privately by F

      • NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

        You're right, they should just go the Lowe's and pick up a toilet + seat that's on sale. No big deal, I'm sure it would all work fine in a low / zero Gravity environment.

        Actually, no. It wouldn't. Your basic toilet+seat relies on gravity. Gravity holds the seat down. Gravity operates the float valves that control how much water is held in the tank. Gravity pulls the flush water into the bowl. Gravity closes the flap valve that ends the flush. Gravity creates the siphon that pulls the wastes into the sewage pipe. Afterwards, gravity holds the water at the bottom of the bowl, making a seal that prevents sewer gasses from entering the home.

        In space, the seat wouldn't

        • And, that is only the start of the problems.
          Seriously, having grown up in the aerospace business (Grandfather was a CMS at US AFLC base, grandmother worked in the tube shop, father was an aeronautical engineer for McDonnell Aircraft and later Douglas, and later yet the combined company, still later, at US AFLC as civilian, grandfather -in law was a QA inspector for maintenance hangers after retiring from the marines.

          People don't understand the complexity in making things that do what is needed in extreme en

          • Thus, why I strongly suggest to NASA that they contract for 500 or so of the mars rovers and send them to the moon and mars en-masse. They are proven to be durable little buggers, and all the engineering work is done. They will be positively cheap compared to new designs and could really capture the public's interest.

            Except that boosters don't scale quite as well. It would still be 'expensive'. But it was seriously considered as an option instead of pushing forward with the Mars Science Laboratory [nasa.gov]. If that one screws up, then there will be a lot of 'told you so' from the Fast and Furious proponents.

            • True, but if you wanted to land a cluster of say 10 at one location and have them set off in 8 compass point directions (+ two spares) I think you could get all that on one Delta V heavy.

              • You'd be better off landing them in ten different spots on the planet. However, I don't think you'd be able to get ten onto a Delta IV Heavy (which is what I assume you meant, because there ain't no such beast as a Delta V) either mass-wise or payload-volume-wise. Especially not the new Curiosity class Mars Science Lab Rovers.
        • NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

          You're right, they should just go the Lowe's and pick up a toilet + seat that's on sale. No big deal, I'm sure it would all work fine in a low / zero Gravity environment.

          Actually, no. It wouldn't. Your basic toilet+seat relies on gravity. Gravity holds the seat down. Gravity operates the float valves that control how much water is held in the tank. Gravity pulls the flush water into the bowl. Gravity closes the flap valve that ends the flush. Gravity creates the siphon that pulls the wastes into the sewage pipe. Afterwards, gravity holds the water at the bottom of the bowl, making a seal that prevents sewer gasses from entering the home. ...

          Sorry, I thought "sarcasm" was pretty apparent from my post. I forgot that stuff doesn't translate to text very well.

          the "I'm sure it would all work fine" bit. Had you read the rest of my post you would've seen where I was going with all of that. Stuff here, doesn't necessarily work up there in zero / low G env.

          • Yeah. I caught that later. My bad for just skimming through and not reading your post properly. However I was so far into composing my reply that I went ahead and posted anyways.
      • And the whole smug "the Russians used a pencil" thing - well, floating, conductive graphite fragments in an environment full of vital electrical equipment doesn't strike me as a good idea.

    • There are several factors at work in the "boondoggle items" myth.

      One is tolerances. If you need a 100 +/- .01 Ohm resistor, but can only buy off the shelf +/- 1 Ohm resistors, you need to buy and test, on average, 100 resistors for every one that proves to meet your requirements. So yes, it's "only" a 100 Ohm resistor, or a cosmic-ray hardened chip, but it costs at least 100x normal plus professional tester time.

      Another is specificity. Sometimes you can't just look for a "good enough" off the shelf part...

  • by chill (34294)

    NASA has a bake sale!? What's next? Engineers on street corners with cups and signs that say "Please Give"?

  • In the hands of the right teacher this is the kind of thing that could get kids interested in science, provided the teacher gets a chance to talk about them during the 3 minutes per class time that isn't used to teach them how to pass whatever standardized test is next on the schedule.
    • Ya, I sure was interested in tiles that can sustain massive amounts of heat and horrible tasting dehydrated food while I was in high school.

      • Hey I'm a high school senior and would kill to screw around with a thermal tile!

        Then again I want to work at SpaceX and people look at me funny when I start ranting about NASA....

    • When I was growing up, it was ST: TNG which got me interested in science along with Mr. Wizard and a whole lot of good teachers along the way who introduced me to model rocketry, optics, and home chemistry sets. We've advanced so much since then in terms of homebrew projects and access to information via the Internet, but have also lost a lot in terms of freedoms and regulations since 9/11. So many things that we used to do because we were kids and sorely for fun are now outlawed or frowned upon in this tim

      • I agree. I was lucky enough to have a couple of 'non-standard' teachers that brought a lot of wisdom and insight into what they taught, and really made things interesting. One guy that taught a global class (social studies) was a former state department worker that was stationed in the Middle East, and it was so much better to hear stories of what he got to do and see there than it would have been to read it in a dry textbook. Nowadays he probably wouldn't have time to talk to us like that, for fear of drop
  • while space food was precooked such that refrigeration is not required and is ready to eat or could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating.

    We use some variation on this when we go mountain hiking, it's basically a dried meal just add boiling water. Carry a light alcohol burner and you can get a good hot meal for almost no weight. There's also full ration kits that include energy bars and lots of other portable foods, like 3800 kcal in 1 kg weight. There's not really much new to be gained there, except you probably get food better suited for space and less suited for earth. And oh yeah, it's all relative - it's an okay meal but it's not how you

    • by chelberg (1712998)

      You have to think brand name, NASA as a brand is a big plus. They could initially have just the space-food, then they could branch out to camping food as well, where they could basically sell the food you are used to, but with the NASA brand, they would probably make more money.

      The only down side I can see is that many would object to the federal government going into business, and competing against private companies. So what they could do instead is to license the NASA brand. I'm sure NASA could make s

  • Why not have the astronauts consume gels similar to what athletes use?

    • by vlm (69642)

      Why not have the astronauts consume gels similar to what athletes use?

      Complete lack of fiber intake causes various large intestinal issues after awhile. Also those gels are basically flavored HFCS, aren't they? Eating that much, they'd probably be dead from early onset diabetes before they land. Those gels are not very different from soda concentrate syrup, roughly equally healthy, and no one would eat them without massive ad budgets and sponsorship deals.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        AFAIK those gels are essentially calorie bombs because top athletes can burn close to 10000 kcal a day. Nice if you already have all your dietary needs covered and just need more energy, but pointless for astronauts - and everybody else, really. For average people it's about as healthy as supersize meals.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Those gels are like gatorade without all the water, not like food.

    • by schwit1 (797399)

      But couldn't gels be a healthy protein/carb mix or whatever the body needs for a 2 week trip?

      • Producing a foodstuff like that which was still a gel composition would be hard. Dietary needs are complex and to keep the food as a gel would mean leaving things out.

        There's a place for iron rations, like pemmican [wikipedia.org], but they are no substitute for a varied diet.

        Aside from the purely nutritional aspect, the psychological aspects are also important, especially on an arduous mission in a dangerous and confined environment. Each astronaut has an input into what goes on his menu because this is recognised as impo

  • NASA isn't so much _selling_ as donating the tiles and food to schools and universities, and asking that they pay the shipping.
  • Now that freeze dried food is more readily available (http://www.mountainhouse.com/) it isn't as much of a novelty anymore. I am surprised we don't see the heat shield tile technology more. Lining an oven with these might improve efficiency. They just need to work on manufacturing costs.
    • They are AeroGel: http://www.aerogel.org/ [aerogel.org] - and it's expensive as hell so unless you want that oven to cost more than you could ever possibly save in energy costs you're out of luck. If you could cheaply mass produce it on the other hand there is a massive market waiting for you.

      • Aerogels kick ass, and do have a number of space applications; but the space shuttle actually uses a variety [wikipedia.org] of other things.

        I'm assuming that the "tiles" mentioned are the iconic black and white LI-900 thermal bricks that most of the body is coated with. Not quite as thermally radical as aerogel, and rather denser; but more mechanically robust.
  • Keep these as reminders of a time when we still sent men into space, when the U.S. was a superpower, and when we thought we would always keep moving forward.

    • Keep these as reminders of a time when we still sent men into space, when the U.S. was a superpower, and when we thought we would always keep moving forward.

      Easier to watch reruns of "The Jetsons [wikimedia.org]".

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @09:40AM (#37386370)

    ... NASA is ... offering processed space shuttle tiles ... to eligible schools

    Is this a dupe from 1983? If I recall from decades ago, according to the asset tag at my middle school, that's when we got our shuttle tile. 83-something. Back then they did not have bar code or RFID tags, at least where I was.

    Now the actual story might be that instead of fishing them out of the scrap and bump -n- dent barrel and giving them to schools, they're dumping out the surplus brand new theoretically usable spare parts instead.

    Are there any schools without tiles? I think every school in our district had at least one shuttle tile since the 80s. You can do some pretty cool demos of insulation, picking them up by the corners while red hot, etc. Aerogels work even better but they're much more fragile.

    • I remember this as well from the 80s. My science teacher had a piece of tile from the space shuttle that we did a blow torch experiment with. I wasn't brave enough to touch it afterwards, but apparently the tiles stay cool enough to touch after getting the blow torch treatment. And, they're remarkably light almost like styrofoam! I'd love to get my hands on one just for fun.

  • by Zoxed (676559) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @10:01AM (#37386690) Homepage

    Maybe I am getting old, but I can remember when they just fell out of the sky, for free :-)

    • If I had mod points and didnt already comment on this story, I don't know whether this would qualify for 'funny' or 'troll'. Well played =)
  • by DinDaddy (1168147) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @10:50AM (#37387234)

    Knowing the dehydrated food I have tried, I hope they clearly label the two. Don't want the kids gnawing on the tiles.

  • As a blacksmith, I just with they'd sell the tiles. I could make a gas forge that would Rock with those!
  • When I was young, I visited my sister, who trains astronauts at NASA, and an astronaut gave me some of their food - a packet of cocoa, creamed spinach, and a brownie. The cocoa is pretty normal - powder in a silver bag. The spinach looks absolutely disgusting, even more so than spinach usually does, from the plastic crinkled around its odd texture when it was vacuum sealed. And the brownie is one of the rare foods that wasn't freeze dried; just sealed.

    It was pretty cool getting the insider's tour; we'd see

  • Had a few myself whilst in Iraq. Pretty good eats.

  • I want a tile made into a beer mug! Maybe another one as a scotch glass too. Icy cold to the last drop.
  • "I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general -- other than the ice cream, I've seen it only in museum displays."

    So what you are saying is that You would like NASA to have a bake sale to fund it's projects..... That's going to piss of the girl scouts when both are standing at your door..

    Hmmmmm. Freeze dried ice cream or thin mints... You decide.....

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?

Working...