Well, it all started with Project Mercury in 1962. Astronaut John Glenn had pureed beef with vegetables and applesauce squeezed through a metal tube. He was the first astronaut to eat in space and prove that people can eat, swallow and digest food in space. This marked the beginning of space food experimentation.
How did the evolution of space food begin, astronaut Andrew Morgan?
During Project Gemini (1961-1966), freeze-dried food mixed with cold water was introduced. This included beef sandwiches, strawberry cereal cubes, peaches, and beef 'n' gravy. A water gun was used to rehydrate the dried food. The first solid food was eaten during the Gemini 3 phase.
Oh, that is interesting! Tell us more!
I would really like to know about further developments in the cosmic cuisine. So, what kind of advancements happened with Project Apollo?
Project Apollo (1961-1972) had more sophisticated food systems. Hot water gun to mix food, a food restraint pouch and thermo-stabilized turkey 'n' gravy was introduced. Prepared meals, eating with a spoon, contingency feeding systems and in-suit drinking device was used for the first time.
With the International Space Station (launched in 1998), food almost like on Earth with minor adaptations became available. There was a menu to choose from with a wide variety of meals. Sauces and spices were used to make food more flavorful and appealing to the taste buds.
The Skylab Space Station (1973 - 1979) brought about huge advancements. Dining tables and chairs were introduced. The refrigerator was a rare occurrence on this mission. There was more food variety. Solar cells replaced water-producing fuel cells.
On the Apollo- Soyuz Mission (July, 1975) American atronauts were allowed to eat Soviet food, such as caviar and borscht ( beet soup), as well as jellied beef tongue and riga bread. They dined on many famous Russian specialities.
One last question. What is the future of space food especially with regards to the 2030 Mission to Mars?
Space food has evolved and come along way. Hydroponic Growth labs - to grow food onboard (veggies, potatoes, wheat, rice, beans) are the way to go. Shelf-stable food is an essential on long term missions. Algae and insects will be part of the diet on Mars.