National Science & Engineering Week

By Jack Ratcliffe,

Latest Gadgets got the chance to sample some space-food last week in preparation for National Science & Engineering Week (9-18 March). Although we didn’t get to leave the atmosphere to sample the amusing bouches, we did get to meet someone who has: Britain’s first astronaut Helen Sharman.

AstroFood

Whether we were chowing down on the Mars Breakfast Bar or finishing off with Martianmallows, one thing was clear: this wasn’t your typical food-in-a-tude space snacks. Created by the eccentric The Robin Collective, the spread (of numerous courses and cocktails) was curated to be both delicious, nutritious and adhere to the challenging non-enviroment of space.

The Robin Collective envisage this as the type of food Virgin Galactic would serve in-flight – and when compared with traditional aeroplane food, it really was out of this world.

AstroFood-Two

The Menu

Mars Breakfast Bar: Created from dehydrated bacon, black pudding and other traditional English breakfast ingredients,  the breakfast bar was designed to show that all foods in space will have to be pre-mixed, lest they float away.

Amoon Bouche: Some of the strongest cheese ever made. Because space dulls the tastebuds, every food will potentially have to be quite potent. Mrs Sharman pointed out that back in her day, the Russians used to pump their food full of garlic, whereas the Americans had a penchant for chillies.

Supersonic Salad: Using crops from the Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative (MELiSSA), the salad contained only crops that can be grown in space. Well, crops that are hoped to be grown in space. Brian Ratcliffe from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen informed us that at the moment, only wheat has successfully galactically germinated. The other potential vegetables are tomatoes, herbs and spinach.

Prof. Ratcliffe informed us that the problem with these foodstuffs is that there isn’t enough protein to fully fulfil out nutritional needs. For that, we need algae. Specifically spiralina – a blue-green algae. We tried it as part of a caprihlana cocktail and were suitably impressed.

He also noted that B12 might be a problem, but could probably be recycled from human faeces…

Martionmallows: The healthiest marshmallows in the world (fortified with vitamins) highlighted every gramme sent to space adds a huge cost. Light-weight ‘mallows are the perfect for maximum taste at minimum weight.

Stardust: Stardust has just one ingredient – miracle berries. Rub the powder around your mouth and suddenly everything sour tastes sweet – including the two lemons and a lime we polished off. Using taste-bud changing technology means that food won’t have to be filled with sugars to be sweet – keeping astronauts healthy in the heavens.

Chewbacca Gum: After suitably stuffing our faces, we finished with an after dinner mint-gum. Made super-strong, the chewbacca gum is designed to exercise the jaw to prevent muscle wastage in a part of the body that is difficult to strengthen in space.

We’d like to thank Helen Sharman and Brain Ratcliffe…….as well as recommend National Science and Engineering Week to

We’d like to thank Helen Sharman and Brian Ratcliffe for this experience, as well as recommend the Engineering Week to everyone (more details, including local events, here)