How Do I Explain "Astronaut Food" to Kids?

I bought some freeze-dried “Astronaut Food” at the Smithsonian for my nieces and nephews. Not having children of my own, I need a bit of help with the explanatory letter I’m sending with it. They’re aged seven, five and four.

(When I sent the Laura Ingalls Wilder books to my neice, I included a letter saying that some of the ways that the characters think (racism, etc.) might seem a bit strange, but people thought differently back then.)

I’m thinking that I’ll say something along these lines:

Can anyone else think of a better way to explain it?

Dear kids:

This is what astronauts eat. Astronauts are men who are sent up into space. Why are they sent up into space? Nobody knows for sure. Some say the intention is to intimidate the rest of the world with our technological prowess. Others claim it’s all about science and discovery. Still others propose that it’s just a desperate attempt to know the unknowable, a fruitless struggle to find something, anything, out there with any connection to our existence and its origins. We spend billions of dollars, while much of the world starves, outfitting these astronauts, building machines that will carry them, and creating technology that will assist them, all to travel into an airless realm where, so far, nothing has been found furthering or helping life on Earth. Astronauts are American Heroes! We proudly stake the U.S. flag on every rock in the galaxy - because we can!

And this is what the astronauts eat!

It’s good!

I’ve never understood this myself. Don’t they add water to the freeze-dried stuff? Which means they have the water on board the ship, right? So how is this lightening the load?

I’ve always like the concept though: add one drop of water to your little pile of powder, and voila! You suddenly have a nice steaming steak, baked potato, buttery baby carrots and a dinner roll.

Happy, who learned everything he knows about space travel from Duck Dodgers


This, after Sally Ride and others, not to mention the Russian women!

Bt you don’t add water to reconstutute thye freeze-dried ice cream and others. You eat it “as is”. and the Freeze Drying makes it “keep” longer, too.

Not all food was freeze-dried. Some of the 1960s astronaut food was cubed and coated, and the aim was to produce high-energy, low-weight, preserved food that produced little waste (always an important goal in limited space and capacity capsules).

It should also be palatable, if possible.

But we also know that the Space Program gave us Tang, so we know they didn’t take that last part too seriously.

Instead of carrying water in a tank, you carry hydrogen and oxygen. Feed them into fuel cells and you get water and electricity.

Anyway, the stuff sold in museums is outdated as actual astronaut food. Present day astronauts eat much better. So the explanation should put it into a historical context.

“And remember, kids, they have to crap into a bag!”

Actually, they might find this interesting, kids being kids ‘n’ all:

Space Toilets!

Apollo astronaut Russell Schweickart said, “One of the most beautiful sights is a urine dump at sunset.”

Sorry Lissa, but Atronaut Food like Dinosaurs is something that kids get to explain to adults :wink:

Actually the product Tang, already existed before it’s inclusion in the space program, it was a poor seller until then.

You can read about it here.

Dear kids,

Astronaut food is made from real astronauts. The one I sent you used to be called Chuck. Enjoy!


Best. Post. Ever!

Nice one, Argent. We are all in awe of your incisive penetration of all the flimflammery to the very heart of the OP’s question.


[official moderator warning]Totally off topic. If you want to criticize the space program, start your own thread in the proper forum.[/official moderator warning]

Which one? They are all called Chuck, or other soundalike nicknames. Half of them are named

Slight error. Although it talks about “astronaut food”, there’ nothin’ about Tang on that page.

and the other half answer to ‘hey, you!’

Recycling. Yes, they purify their piss and drink it again.

As for the OP, have you looked at the package? I used to work at the National Air & Space Museum, and I seem to recall that the package explained what it was and why. (BTW, freeze-dried ice cream, while a big seller, tastes like flavored styrofoam.)

Chuck was very big, the Paul Bunyan of the astronauts. After the unfortunate accident with the last Saturn V rocket, they had to do something with the enormous body.

Well, only this part:

However, I agree that it’s not much. So I refer you to The Food Timeline,

AHA! found what the little astronauts from the 1950’s and 1960’s ate.