NASA astronauts dining on Thanksgiving meal thanks to Texas A&M - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

NASA astronauts dining on Thanksgiving meal thanks to Texas A&M

Source: Texas A&M University Source: Texas A&M University
Ben O'Neil, Chancellor John Sharp, and Bonnie Dunbar (from left to right)/ Source: Texas A&M University Ben O'Neil, Chancellor John Sharp, and Bonnie Dunbar (from left to right)/ Source: Texas A&M University
An astronaut's Thanksgiving feast/ Source: Texas A&M University An astronaut's Thanksgiving feast/ Source: Texas A&M University
Source: Texas A&M University Source: Texas A&M University
COLLEGE STATION, TX (KFDA) -

Scientists at the Space Food Research Facility at Texas A&M University are making sure astronauts celebrating Thanksgiving in space will get to eat a holiday meal. 

Since 2007, the Space Food Research Facility has produced more than 50 kinds of food items for astronauts on the International Space Station and throughout NASA's human spaceflight program.

Some of the holiday food items available on this year's menu will include sliced turkey, candied yams, and apricot cobbler.

In a recent video, Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp, Food Scientist Ben O'Neil, and former astronaut/Professor of Aerospace Engineering Dr. Bonnie Dunbar were able to sample some of the space meals created while recounting the importance of provide these meals to astronauts in space.

If you're reading this story on your mobile device, you can watch the video here

In the video, Dunbar said they had the chance to sample meals before heading into space. 

After sampling was complete, each astronaut was given their own set of meals color-coded to their liking. And to help with eating in a weightless environment, she said they would actually suck the food out of the packages.

Dunbar said it helps get the juices out and makes eating more enjoyable. 

“The meats are really great,” Dunbar said. “It’s just like Thanksgiving dinner.”

Food scientists at Texas A&M create these flavorful dishes from the highest quality ingredients. And they make sure that crew members enjoy the best quality meals possible while in space.

Each Meals Ready-to-Eat, or MREs, are created in-house and then sent off to packaging. 

At the Space Food Research Facility, food scientists use a retort system to produce thermostabilized food items, which contain water.

This food differs from freeze-dried food because heat and pressure are used to sterilize thermostabilied food to give it a shelf life of several years.

Few facilities can produce these types of pouched products, making the Space Food Research Facility at A&M a vital food supplier for NASA.

The facility is used for education purposes too, which allows food science students at Texas A&M to learn more about food processing practices. Sharp said most people don’t realize that much of the food consumed in space is made on the West Campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.

“Texas A&M is proud to feed our brave astronauts aboard the International Space Station,” Sharp said. “You know the food is going to be tasty and healthful if it’s made at A&M with Aggie pride.”      

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