According to NASA, the last space shuttle launch of STS-135 will take place at 11:26 this morning (be sure to turn on the TV). Just as space flight has evolved, so has the astronaut's diet of what used to be Tang and tubes of ham salad and cheddar cheese. In honor of the brave folks about to be shot into space, we bring you ten crazy astronaut food facts:
10. Buzz Aldrin smuggled two packages onto the first moon walk mission. According to Man on the Moon, the Neil Armstrong biography, Aldrin broke out a vial of wine and some bread to perform the first outer-space communion.
9. In 1965, astronaut John Young snuck a corned beef sandwich onto the Gemini III space capsule for a little orbital snack. The sandwich promptly fell apart in zero gravity, and Young stuffed it into a pocket so it wouldn't fly into the ventilation system.
8. Tang was not invented by NASA for the space program. Official word is that General Foods invented Tang in 1957 and it was already on supermarket shelves before NASA used it on John Glenn's orbital eating experiments.
Here are some aliens with Brooklyn accents enjoying the great taste of Tang.
7. Sushi in space? You betcha! On February 24, 2010, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi made a salmon sushi roll at the International Space Station during a live broadcast for Japanese television.
6. What's the favorite food of almost every astronaut? Shrimp cocktail! These little freeze-dried shrimp are served six to a packet with cocktail sauce. Another favorite: M&M's.
Watch a space shuttle crew talk about food in space.
5. Emeril Lagasse prepared a menu for the Expedition 13 crew on the International Space Station. The menu included Mardi Gras jambalaya, mashed potatoes with bacon, green beans with garlic, and rice pudding with fruit. The cooking, however, was done at the Johnson Space Center by NASA's food scientists.
4. Top Chef's season seven cheftestants had an out-of-this-world challenge: Make a dinner fit for orbit. Angelo Sosa won for his short-ribs recipe, which was then prepared in Houston and served to space shuttle astronauts.
3. Rachael Ray's balls were too big for space. When Rachael Ray was asked to prepare a meal for the flight crew of the STS-116 shuttle mission, her meatballs were deemed too large to eat in space, so she reworked them into Swedish meatballs.
2. In November 2009, astronauts boarded Space Shuttle Atlantis with a little something extra: smoked, irradiated turkey and canned yams. Seems as though NASA forgot to add a Thanksgiving meal to the menu.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Russian space food is better than U.S. space food. While American astronauts have 180 menu items to choose from, the Russians have more than 300 (mostly in cans), including lamb with vegetables, beef with barley (kind of like meat loaf), sturgeon, and chicken with rice.
BONUS: Yes! Astronauts do drink their own urine -- after it's passed through a recycling system. Watch here!