Education Technology

Design Challenge ONE

What's for dinner?

Food on the International Space Station is specially processed and packaged for a variety of reasons, and astronauts depend on resupply missions from Earth for their meals. Every time an astronaut eats a meal, he or she scans a bar code on it that monitors inventory and delivers data to the NASA Food Science Laboratory.

Scientists have developed algorithms to calculate how much and what kind of food to deliver to the orbiting laboratory – everything from appetizers like freeze-dried shrimp to basics like powdered coffee, salt, pepper-oil, and water – on resupply missions every three or four months. They have also designed processes for preparing food that can be stored without spoiling for extended periods.

How would you resupply a human mission to Mars? Or, if a resupply isn’t feasible, what then?

Design a plan for feeding astronauts on their journey to Mars (and back home!)

Before you Start

Make sure you have the Adult Sponsor/Educator Guide and the Design Notebook.

Fun Facts

Food for thought

NASA’s Food Laboratory website includes several educational activities designed to get students engaged in learning about space food and human spaceflight. Other things to think about while designing your food plan include:

  • Items can be freeze-dried and packed in airtight, watertight bags.

  • The shelf life of food aboard the space station is 2 ½ to 3 years, but nutrients deteriorate over time.

  • Fluid shift in space may suppress astronauts’ sense of taste, so they prefer very flavorful food.

  • Dehydrated food is lightweight but requires water to prepare.

Coming Soon

Design Challenge Two

Keep it clean

Think twice before you wish on that shooting star — it might actually be waste from the space station.

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Design Challenge Three

Cabin fever

Imagine not being able to leave your house for six months or a year. That is about what it is like to live on the space station.

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Design Challenge Four

Shields up!

Millions of pieces of orbital debris have the potential to collide with things like satellites, the space station or an astronaut out on a spacewalk.

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