Nowadays, astronauts eat food that's as good as what you can get anywhere on Earth. But back in the day, space food came in weird tubes, like toothpaste. Or was shaped into blobs of tasteless goop. Here are some fascinating, colorful photos of food items in space, from the early days of space travel to today.

In her book Packing for Mars, Mary Roach explains:

Space food must be both lightweight and dense in calories. Therefore, bacon enters a hydraulic press to become a “Bacon Square” and toast becomes a “Toasted Bread Cube” glossed with a layer of edible fat designed to keep crumbs in check. Because carbonation bubbles won’t rise to the surface without gravity, beer is a no-go in space. Milkshakes work just fine, however, as does grapefruit juice.

Check out NASA's Space Food Hall of Fame, which explains:

Today's space food has come a long way since the Mercury Program of the early 1960s. When John Glenn first tried apple sauce from a squeeze tube onboard his Friendship 7 spacecraft in 1962, who could have dreamed that later astronauts would be able to choose from such a wide variety of foods? Space foods have evolved from primitive pastes or cubes to fully cooked, "thermostabilized" entrees similar to the military's MREs (meals ready-to-eat).

Above: Astronauts Thomas Stafford and Donald Slayton hold containers of Soviet borsch in the Soyuz Orbital Module

During the US-USSR Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975 – pictured below.


A tube of borscht soup, produced in Estonia for the Soviet space program

(via Wikimedia Commons)


The powdered orange-flavored drink was available on the market from 1959, and later used by the first Gemini flights and the last Mercury missions.

(via Gono)

Mercury and Gemini Food (1961-1966)


Skylab Food and Tray (1973-1974)


Shrimp Cocktail

The shrimps, coated in a spicy sauce was the six-time flier Story Musgrave's favourite: he ate them at every meal. The sauce wakes up taste buds, which are really weak because of the weightlessness.

(via All That Splatters)

Peggy Whitson flight engineer and Valery Korzun are eating a hamburger.

(via NASA Press Kit)



International Space Station food, 2003

Beef steak, creamed spinach, cheddar cheese spread, candy coated peanuts and cookies. It all looks really delicious!

(via NASA Press Kit)

Sandra Magnus poses with a tortilla on the International Space Station

During Expedition 18, 2008-2009

(via Amusing Planet)


Soichi Noguchi, the first sushi chef in space, 2010

(via slashfood)

Russian Stew in a can, 2010

This looks like dog food, but Col. Hadfield says it's delicious. I believe him.

(via Col. Chris Hadfield)

NASA M&M's for the final space shuttle launch in 2011

(via Foodista)

Almonds, beans, cherries and other foods from Russia

(via Super Collider Unknown Fields)

Mix the contents of the pouches, add hot or cold water, and the food is all ready to eat.

(via Universe Today, photo: Col. Chris Hadfield)