Most of ISS crew consumables are designed for a long store period.

I couldn't find any info - what are shelf life durations for the consumables?

What are typical shelf life in ISS storage for:

  • Food (dried or specially prepared)

  • drinkable water

  • clothes

  • hygiene kits?

Are any NASA docs available about it?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The ISS usually has enough consumables in store to last 1 year without resupply, so that gives a lower bound to shelf life. $\endgroup$
    – Hobbes
    Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 9:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Funny related anecdote: I was on console in 2017 for some planned maintenance when Joe Acaba found a Russian can of pink shrimp behind a rack. It had an expiration date of 2012. CAPCOM informed the crew, "BME (biomedical engineer) advises that you DO NOT eat the shrimp." $\endgroup$
    – Doresoom
    Commented Jan 30 at 22:18

1 Answer 1


Shelf life of food

The above is an article describing the shelf life of various food items on the ISS. Basically, they say roughly a year is the shelf life of their food. A year is generally the de facto life span for most preserved goods (as someone whose made canned food goods). However let me explain what is going on.

Technically canned food can be edible for decades if done right. However, nutritional value and flavor can decrease after about a year. Various vitamins and proteins are nothing more than delicate and slightly volatile organic molecules. Just because they are canned does not mean these compounds cease reacting with each other. This is why storage temperature of canned items is important for their longevity. For this very reason is why their flavor also degrades over time. There are other factors that attribute to this like oxidization and moisture.

How they make space food

Water is potable for virtually ever as long you store it right (plus they usually have a reclaimer). Clothing lasts as long as that astronauts mission does though I have no idea how they clean it (heck I've had jackets last for decades).

As for hygiene kits, they dont spoil and as mentioned in the comments they are provisioned all that they would need for the duration of their mission.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Good answer. You mentioned not knowing how they clean their clothing. The answer: they don't. They dispose of it in Progress or Cygnus vehicles when it gets too dirty. $\endgroup$
    – Tristan
    Commented Aug 20, 2018 at 15:33

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