Breaking bread in space isn’t a possibility as of now – at least aboard the International Space Station (ISS) because of the dangers involved with crumb that is left over when one tries to eat or even handle bread. The crumbs could prove disastrous for the millions of dollars worth of equipment and in extreme cases even catastrophic for the entire ISS.
However, that could change soon with Bake in Space – an experiment that aims to create crumb-free bread for astronauts. A German company has come up with a unique recipe for bread and design of an oven that they claim will create a mess-free (read crumb-free) version of bread that astronauts will be able to enjoy aboard the ISS without having to worry about bread crumbs endangering their mission. The experiment will will be sent aboard the ISS in April 2018 along with astronaut Alexander Gerst and will include ingredients and equipment for a German bread roll.
The idea behind Bake In Space isn’t just to provide an alternative to dehydrated astronaut food, but it also intends to offer astronauts working in space the opportunity to feel at home by relishing on goodies similar to those on Earth.
The experiment believes that food plays a key role in long-duration space missions and beyond the nutritional values of fresh food, the attached psychological factors play a critical role as well in the general well being of the astronauts who will be flying to distant worlds in future.
If we walk down the memory lane, the first and last people to enjoy bread in space were the two astronauts on NASA’s 1965 Gemini 3 mission, who shared a corned beef sandwich one of them had smuggled on board. The crumbs flew everywhere in the microgravity and could have got into their eyes or into the electrical panels, where they could have started a fire. Bread has been banned ever since – tortilla wraps are the accepted alternative.
The Bake In Space experiment notes that they will be testing various approaches on board the ISS during the European Space Agency’s Horizon mission in April 2018. The plan is to control the entire baking process from the ground via video feeds from inside the oven – that way the astronauts won’t have to worry about burning their loaves on top of their other duties. To see how microgravity affects a finished loaf, initial batches will also use dough pre-baked on Earth.