Headline News


A glimpse on healthier menu for astronauts


Source: | 09-26-2008 16:34

Special Report:   Shenzhou-7 Manned Space Flight

Every last detail of the flight has been carefully planned - including what the astronauts eat. Compared to the menu from Shenzhou VI, the food on this flight will be more varied, and the eventual aim is to include food from all 56 ethnic groups in China.

The number 1 rule for the astronauts' menu is to avoid food that could cause gas.

Such foodstuffs may cause stomach ache for the astronauts. And since their spacesuits have a self-circulation system, any gaseous after-effects could affect the air quality for the astronauts.

The food must contain a high-energy content, since in Shenzhou VII, astronauts have more work to do. With about 80 types of food provided, the astronauts will have a diversified and personalized diet. Astronauts can taste the food before they get on board, and their favorite food will go with them.

The food packaging must be strong enough to withstand great pressure. The food is stored in the orbital capsule, which will see several pressure changes. So if the packaging isn't strong enough, any leaks of food and drink could damage the equipment.

Meanwhile, the drinking water on board the spaceship can also be used as in the cooling system for the spacesuits.

The menu includes starch, staples, soups, drinks, seasonings, and ready-made meals. Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng said that eating under zero gravity on Shenzhou 6 was fun.

In their daily training, the astronauts' diet is strictly controlled. Different training programs also have different menus. And the training center will monitor closely whether the food offers them enough nutrition.

The three astronauts on board take it in turns to eat. To heat each meal up takes about half an hour. There is no canned food on board. There is 1.2 kilograms of food for each person per day, and there is enough food for 5 days. The shelf life of the food is about 3 months. Though the food is diversified, there is no fresh fruits or vegetables.

But on longer flights in the future, astronauts will be able to enjoy a even wider variety of food. Scientists plan to pack on board traditional snacks from all the country's 56 ethnic groups.


 Interactive:  Be part of China's journey to space!


Editor:Zhang Yue