This seems to be a popular factoid that everyone knows, but I’ve never heard a reason why – why did the astronauts so famously drink Tang in outerspace? Did the early astronauts just coincidentally enjoy Tang? Was Tang an official sponsor of NASA? Or does Tang have some chemical property that makes it taste better in outer space than other drinks?
From http://www.kukuachoo.net/a98.htm (not a very authoritive cite, but oh well):
Due to space requirements, a powdered drink mix is a good fit for the space program, and unlike Kool-Aid, Tang has some nutritional value (100% daily requirement for Vitamin C, for one)
They couldn’t very well bring along frozen OJ concentrate, could they? Tang was just a convenient instant powdered substitute for orange juice. Tang was first marketed by General Foods in 1957; the first space mission that included it was Gemini 4 in 1965.
From Kraft Brands
Some astronauts weren’t all that fond of Tang. If spilled after being wetted it tended to encrust into a cement like substance that got everywhere.
The fuel cells that were used to provide electricity from a platinum catalysed reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. This produces a lot of water. So rather than bring drinks that were hydrated, they made use of this water to save weight.
You know, the drink actually goes back to whalers. They liked Harpoon Tang.
That was awful. Go stand in the corner.
Plus, of course, it gave John Young the farts. Which is bad news if you’re stuck in a spacesuit for several hours.