Shooting some spice into space.
Meats served in orbit have come a tong way from the gelatin-coated food cubes and aluminum tubes of applesauce that sustained Gemini astronauts in the 1960s. NASA food scientists now know to add tots of spice to space fare because the senses of smell and taste are dulled in microgravity. "We crave anything with a nice, sharp flavor," says William S. McArthur Jr., who served this year as a commander aboard the International. Space Station.
The food might not look appetizing in its pouches, but it can taste surprisingly good. McArthur's favorite was shrimp cocktail in a tangy sauce. And in July, the shuttle Discovery crew savored jambalaya created by Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network. Vickie Kloeris, manager of the space-station food system, says her next challenge is preparing food for Mars expeditions. It requires a tong shelf life because it will be sent to Mars months before the astronauts show up for dinner.