As NASA gears up for its proposed manned missions to Mars in 2030, the space administration’s Advanced Food Technology (AFT) project is ensuring that the crew will have a completely vegan diet of fresh fruits, vegetables and even live plants. We’ve long been familiar with the traditional astronauts’ fare of liquid meals and freeze-dried food stuffs—oh, and Tang—but when considering plans to send astronauts further afield and beyond the reach of supply vessels, the AFT has found it must create healthier space-meals and methods to grow food in zero-gravity.
Science-fiction films and series such as Sunshine and Star Trek have long shown the need for massive hydroponic bays on space ships in order to have a completely sustainable food source for the crew. On previous missions, a lack of gravity has meant that taste and smell has hindered food preparation, but NASA are ensuring that for missions to Mars, astronauts will be able to chop vegetables, cook and grow plants in a hydroponic solution.
So far NASA’s Advanced Food Technology (AFT) project has developed over 100 vegan recipes for the future Mars six-to-eight man crew. Why vegan? Well, simply because it is not feasible to preserve meat and dairy projects long enough for the trip. Plus, it is easier to grow fruit and vegetables than to store cattle!
Senior research scientist Maya Cooper stated: “Mars is different just because it’s so far away. We don’t have the option to send a vehicle every six months and send more food as we do for the International Space Station.”