Hydrated Food Should Be Used on Long Space Mission
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In early space missions it was assumed that future astronauts would consume concentrated bite-sized cubes and rehydrated freeze-dried foods to minimize the mass of food that was launched. Such extreme space-designed foods were used but were found unsatisfactory, so more familiar food was substituted. Until recently, it was often assumed that long duration space missions would use dehydrated food and recycled water to save mass. Familiar normally hydrated food could provide higher quality and better nutrition, but would require a significantly higher launch mass. Designing a food system for space must trade-off nutrition, cost, and safety as well as familiarity and acceptability. In the past, the key variable in space food system design has been the food moisture content. Normal food is typically two-thirds water. Dehydrated food can eliminate most of the water mass but has much lower acceptability. The well planned food system for the International Space Station (ISS) balances acceptability and launch cost by using a mix of dehydrated, moisture reduced, and normal food. Now that commercial rocket systems have reduced the cost of launch to a small fraction of the shuttle cost, there is much less need to use dehydrated food to reduce food launch mass. Normally hydrated food should now be used on long space missions.