Anyway, in honor of the imminent achievements of astronautics, we remember: freeze-dried ice cream, the space dessert that perhaps never reached space. (Not including that time, Stephen Colbert sent him on a balloon).
When NASA began to embark people on space flights, they lacked clarity about what zero gravity might mean for the human digestive process. John Glenn enjoyed the first recorded space snack, a tube of apple sauce, in 1962, but the astronauts needed more sincere options. Without the ability to freeze the ingredients in the first missions, all the foods had to be dehydrated, lyophilized or heat treated so that they could survive at room temperature. NASA enlisted at the Whirlpool Corporation to help with the mission-ready menus, which is apparently the way we discovered how to freeze and dry the ice cream: take a slab of the dessert and freeze it at -15 degrees Celsius, then vaporize the crystals of ice and siphon Turn them off, until the product finally becomes a kind of crispy and foamy brick.
If you let it sit in your mouth for a few minutes, instead of just cracking the "treatment" like a cookie, this sci-fi wafer supposedly acquires a creamy texture that recalls its primary state. Allegedly.
But the fact that the astronauts have experienced their disconcerting mouth feel while watching our chaotic rock remains murky. Vickie Kloeris, a food scientist who has worked for a long time with NASA and the International Space Station, told NPR in 2011 that the ice cream flew only once, during the Apollo program. And in fact, the vanilla ice cream appears in the menu of the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, according to a contemporary press release, but there is no clear indication that dessert has definitely achieved on board. Even so, that is the classically associated flight with this elusive snack.
Walter Cunningham, the only member of the Apollo 7 crew still alive, remembers buying things at the Johnson Space Center gift shop in Houston. "It's not bad, but after a few times you realize that you really do not need more." -But he insists he does not remember eating astronaut ice cream on the spaceship. Remember vividly the chocolate pudding and the bacon bits, but not the piece of ice cream. Mission transcripts do not mention dessert either, and the curator of the National Air and Space Museum, Jennifer Levasseur, told Vox:
It is very likely that he has never flown. It was probably done, it was tested on the ground and it was rejected. They always have the opportunity to try things in advance, and they probably thought it was as horrible as it really is when you buy it in the gift shop.
Regardless of taste, the reason freeze-dried ice cream has been limited mainly to the museum's gift shops (courtesy of Astronaut Foods) has more to do with its consistency. If we were to throw it to the last frontier, the floating chalk crumbs would make the astronauts go crazy by sneaking into their eyeballs and their electronic devices.
However, since the 1960s, science has discovered how to bring a freezer into space. In 2006, the shuttle Atlantis flew the GLACIER, equipped with Blue Bell cups with swirls of chocolate, to the International Space Station. The ISS got a fresh lot in 2012.
Meanwhile, the astronaut's ice cream has found an audience among backpackers, trainers and soldiers in hot climates like Afghanistan, where the refusal of the product to melt can overcome the fresh and refreshing properties of the original. Maybe, when the temperatures exceed 100 degrees this weekend, you will appreciate a little more your serving of freeze-dried milk fat. Find him at a museum gift shop near you.