Just about every time I watch a sci-fi show or movie about space, there always seems to be "regular" food on board. That is, stuff that we on earth (and more specifically Americans) recognize as "home cooking", things with potatoes, beef and chicken, soups, and a wide variety of other things.

As far as I know, most of the food the astronauts use today (please correct me on this) is dehydrated or altered in such a way to make it feasible to bring into space (like a backpacking meal).

I'm curious of what technological costs would go into a spacecraft being able to carry a kitchen capable of cooking raw foods, specifically for the spacecraft and not for transport to colonies or other such things. I think, obviously, one day we may have such technologies, but I'm more curious about the next 100 years or so. Will we be able to accomplish this, or are the next few generations of astronauts doomed to eat "space food"?

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    $\begingroup$ Where's my hoverboard? Where's my Mr. Fusion? This is 2015; they're supposed to be here by now. Predicting what things will look like 10 years into the future is a dubious undertaking. Looking ahead 25 years is extremely dicey. (For some grins, take a look at a 1975 magazine that predicted what the year 2000 would look like.) You are asking the impossible with your request for the next 100 years. $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2015 at 0:21
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree. I think it's entirely possible to provide an answer based on current technology and methods and things in development. Many answers on SE take these things into account $\endgroup$ Jan 18, 2015 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ Serving and eating traditional meals would require gravity. Crumbs and drops floating around may be dangerous for the spacecraft. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 20, 2017 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ There is some good speculation about this on Project Rho, including the idea of the toroidal centrifugal space wok. Personally, I suspect that shish kebabs are likely a better idea. $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Jun 1, 2020 at 0:33

2 Answers 2


In addition to Brian's points (which are both correct), it's actually a misnomer that astronauts eat only dehydrated "space food". Modern food that is shipped to the ISS, for example, is actually quite good. It's still tricky to cook, but they get plenty of raw fruits and vegetables, among other things.

From this TIME article:

Today, the most elaborate outer-space meals are consumed in the International Space Station (ISS), where astronauts enjoy everything from steak to chocolate cake. They even have a small beverage chiller that can serve cold drinks. The ISS is a joint venture between the U.S. and Russia, and diplomatic guidelines dictate the percentage of food an astronaut must eat from each country. NASA's food laboratory has 185 different menu items, Russia offers around 100, and when Japan sent up its first crew member in 2008, about 30 dishes came with him. Kloeris says that the freeze-dried shrimp cocktail, served with horseradish-infused powdered sauce, is the most popular dish.

In the far future, when we have permanent human settlements on other worlds, things like hydroponics will likely be a source of food. There's already research being done on that today. "Space food" is already partly a relic of the Apollo era, and will be moreso in the future.


Several points come to mind:

  • In most sci-fi there is gravity. At the moment we do not have a non-earth location where humans can go with gravity. If we have habitats on the Moon or Mars then there will be a degree of gravity and the situation can change. We have not yet constructed a vast spinning space station with artificial gravity as depicted in 2001 A Space Odyssey. This makes the handling of fluids (like water), boiling in water, peeling vegetables etc very difficult. Food fragments floating in low gravity is also a safety hazard, which is why no bread, chips or other fragmenting items.

  • Frequency of supplies. It takes considerable cost and effort to ship food items to space from earth. Therefore supplies are not frequent. Thus they need to be preserved. However, they are not all dehydrated or altered. The Russian food on the ISS is frequently canned and the cosmonauts and astronauts enjoy much canned fish, meat, vegetables and fruit, much as they would on an earth expedition away from civilization.


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