Scientists working with the German-based company, Bake In Space, developed technology to safely bake sourdough bread in space.
Bake In Space made an oven that can function in microgravity, and also developed space-grade yeast that can be grown on the International Space Station (ISS), then made into sourdough bread.
“I have heard from several former German astronauts that they really missed bread” Sebastian Marcu, founder and CEO of Bake In Space, told Space.com. “Everything on the space station has to have [a] long shelf-life. And fresh produce, freshly baked products — that’s something they really miss.”
Currently, astronauts on the ISS use tortillas instead of bread both due to concerns about shelf-life and because tortillas produce fewer crumbs, which can get inside sensitive electronics.
NASA also doesn’t allow equipment that can get hotter than 113 degrees Fahrenheit, making it hard to have an oven at the ISS. On Earth, bread needs to be baked at a temperature of about 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake In Space got around this technical hurdle changing the makeup of bread dough, and by using water as part of the cooking process. The company hopes to have a prototype oven ready by the end of this year.
Food in space is famously lacking in flavor, as it is much more difficult to taste food because astronauts’ tongues tend to swell.
Former German astronaut Gerhard Thiele, who spent 11 days in space in 2000, joined the project.
“We need to take care of the human beings that we are sending [to space], of their wellbeing, and food, as well as the environment, is an essential part of this,” Thiele said. “To have something fresh, whether it is bread or whether it is vegetables, it would be wonderful.”
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