A new space food system will be introduced on the fifth Shuttle mission. The change includes redesign of the package for rehydratable foods and a new galley. The package will be an injection molded base with a thermoformed flexible lid and a needle-septum concept for rehydration. One package will be used for both rehydratable foods and beverages. Automated production and more readily available materials reduce the cost of space food packaging. The galley system has a food preparation area, a semi-automatic rehydration unit and a convection oven. The time required to add water to the packages has been reduced to 3–5 min. Foods for space flight are purchased in lots and held at 40 F until 1 to 2 months before a scheduled flight. Most of the safety and quality testing are done while the foods are in storage. Foods which pass the tests, i.e. microbiological, sensory, rehydration, storage, and oxygen headspace, are transferred to flight packages in a Class 10,000 clean booth, using clean room techniques. The menu for the Shuttle food system is derived from a variety of foods that are preserved by dehydration, thermostabilization, irradiation and moisture control.
2NASA-Johnson Space Center.