I’m currently reading W. David Wood’s rather excellent “How Apollo Flew To The Moon” which details the technological development and execution in reaching the moon with the Apollo program.

Part of the book details that the flight crew ate a “low residue” breakfast before boarding the Saturn V launch vehicle, but didn’t expand on this.

So, what did the Apollo astronauts eat for breakfast and what were the special considerations for making that choice?

How are pre-flight meals different in the modern age of manned space flight?

  • $\begingroup$ As I recall news coverage of the Apollo flights, it seemed that steak & eggs was a traditional pre-flight breakfast; if ever varied from, it was a notable exception. $\endgroup$
    – Anthony X
    Nov 17, 2019 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ A low residue diet is one that is low in fiber. Such diets tend to slowly move through the digestive tract, compare to diet high in fiber. For shorter duration Apollo missions this would have had the advantage of delaying when the food came out the other end, minimizing the chance of astronauts evacuating their bowels in flight and the associated unpleasantness that would have entailed for all concerned, within the small confines the space craft involved. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    May 14, 2023 at 8:31

3 Answers 3


The traditional American astronaut's pre-flight breakfast is steak and eggs, with juice, coffee, and/or tea, and possibly toast. This is what Alan Shepard ate (bacon-wrapped filet mignon, allegedly, and scrambled eggs) before his first Mercury sub-orbital flight, and the tradition has continued since.

Steak and eggs are high in protein, low in carbs and fiber, which is what you want for "low residue" -- i.e. minimizing bowel movements.

Prior to Shepard's flight, this was a standard choice for military jet pilots assigned to long solo flights, where there was no option to leave the cockpit to use a bathroom. Early astronauts would try and keep to a similar high-protein low-residue diet for a few days prior to the flight as well as the preflight breakfast.

Shepard's flight was quite short, so his choice was probably made out of personal preference or habit rather than on the basis of low residue (though he did, famously, have to urinate in his flight suit after several hours of delays on the launch pad).

In the shuttle and post-shuttle era, with actual toilets available, astronauts have more options, and can pretty much ask for whatever they want for their pre-flight breakfast -- for example, lobster and baked potato -- but many stick to the steak-and-eggs tradition. Often, astronauts' pre-flight stress prevents them from enjoying the meal. In his book Riding Rockets, Mike Mullane says, of the STS-41D crew, "most of us ate nothing or very lightly. I had a piece of toast".

The traditional breakfast of Russian cosmonauts, according to Robert Frost of NASA, is boiled eggs, mashed potatoes, bread and butter, and tea. The breakfast is followed by a small champagne toast.


3 months before the launch to ISS, the cosmonauts begin to eat serious space food, choosing which products they would like to see in orbit. Top to bottom / Left to right. enter image description here

First column:

  • Сок: juice.

  • Зеленый (чай?): green (tea?)

  • Орех Фундук: hazelnuts.

  • Творог в пюре из чёрной смородины: cottage cheese in black currant puree.

Second column:

  • Творог в пюре из облепихи: cottage cheese in mashed sea buckthorn.

  • Творог в пюре ****: cottage cheese in mashed potatoes.

  • Творог с орехами: cottage cheese with nuts.

Third column:

  • Свинина с лечо: pork with Hungarian stew.

  • Салат из зелёной фасоли: green bean salad.

  • Салат из свёклы: beetroot salad.

Fourth column:

  • Макаронные изделия с мясом: pasta with meat.

  • Традиционная каша из риса: traditional rice porridge.

  • Картофельное пюре: mashed potatoes.

https://habr.com/ru/company/ruvds/blog/457062/ enter image description here

  • Дроблённая брусника с сахаром: crushed lingonberries with sugar.

  • Радужная форель: rainbow trout.

  • Аппетитная закуска: "mouth-watering snack".

  • Чахохбили: Chakhokhbili, a Georgian stew with chicken, tomato, and herbs.

  • Горчица: mustard, in squeeze tube.

  • Натуральный мёд: natural honey, in squeeze tube.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer and picture. It would be helpful if your answer listed (in English) the items shown in the picture. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    May 27, 2020 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon In my opinion, an exact translation is not possible. Therefore, I will write the Russian text on these packages. $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    May 28, 2020 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ I used an automated translator to translate the descriptions to English. Feel free to make corrections. $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Aug 17, 2022 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ what the heck??? no borscht?? $\endgroup$
    – BradV
    Sep 12, 2022 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ @BradV Borscht - iz.ru/1145022/anastasiia-platonova/… $\endgroup$
    – A. Rumlin
    Oct 9, 2022 at 18:00

Here is translation of the items in this answer from Russian to English:

3 months before the launch to ISS, the cosmonauts begin to eat serious space food, choosing which products they would like to see in orbit. Top to bottom / Left to right.

First column:

Juice: juice.

Green (tea?): green (tea?)

Hazelnut: hazelnuts.

Cottage cheese in black currant puree: cottage cheese in black currant puree.

Second column:

Cottage cheese in sea buckthorn puree: cottage cheese in mashed sea buckthorn.

Cottage cheese in mashed potatoes ****: cottage cheese in mashed potatoes.

Cottage cheese with nuts: cottage cheese with nuts.

Third column:

Pork with lecho: pork with Hungarian stew.

Green bean salad: green bean salad.

Beetroot salad: beetroot salad.

Fourth column:

Pasta with meat: pasta with meat.

Traditional rice porridge: traditional rice porridge.

Mashed potatoes: mashed potatoes.


Crushed lingonberries with sugar.

Rainbow trout: rainbow trout.

Appetizing snack: "mouth-watering snack".

Chakhokhbili: Chakhokhbili, a Georgian stew with chicken, tomato, and herbs.

Mustard: mustard, in squeeze tube.

Natural honey: natural honey, in squeeze tube.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Note that this question is about the last meal before flight, while this answer is what food they try in the 3 months before flight to work out their menu. $\endgroup$ Sep 11, 2022 at 0:31

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