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95/48/1 Meal package, space food for Gemini mission, food / plastic, maker unknown, United States of America,1965-1966. Click to enlarge.

Space meal package from Gemini mission

Made by US Army Natick Laboratories in Houston, Texas, United States of America, 1965-1966.

This seven-item lunch meal was prepared for use on NASA Gemini two-person space flights between 1965-66. Because of the unique environment of space, food for spaceflight has to satisfy a number of criteria in order to fulfil its function as nutrition for astronauts. Derived and improved from the earlier Mercury program food, Gemini space food was able to provide the complete nutritional requirements for each astronaut for up to two weeks in orbit, including the replacement of those minerals and ...

Summary

Object No.

95/48/1

Object Statement

Meal package, space food for Gemini mission, food / plastic, maker unknown, United States of America,1965-1966

Physical Description

Plastic rectangular sealed bag containing a complete meal (lunch) for an astronaut. Seven individual items are inside the bag including dehydrated pea soup, freeze-dried salmon salad, compressed cheese sandwiches coated with an edible gelatin film, compressed peanut cubes, a sachet of pineapple-grapefruit juice drink powder, chewing gum and a skin cleaning towel. The pea soup, salmon salad and drink powder are contained in plastic sachets fitted with two tubes: one with a valved nozzle to allow water to be added and the other an eating tube that can be folded until needed. Attached to the outside of each sachet is a bacteriacidal tablet, used to sterilize it after use to prevent spoilage of the residue before the spacecraft returned to Earth. The cheese sandwiches and peanut cubes are vacuum-packed in sealed plastic parcels. The cleaning towel also has its own plastic sachet.

Marks

All of the items in the bag are labelled, but only five are entirely visible through the sealed bag - 'SALMON SALAD / 3 oz. water / 5-10 minutes' with '6306' stamped in black perpendicular to the main text and 'WSD / 14' printed inside a circle. On the back reads, 'SERIAL NO. / FP 579'. 'PEA SOUP / 5 oz. water / 2-5 minutes / Let Stand 5 minutes' with '6312' stamped in black perpendicular to the main text and 'WSD / 11' printed inside a circle. On the back reads, 'SERIAL NO. / FP 705'. 'CHEESE SANDWICHES' with '6294' printed in the bottom left corner and 'WSD / 8' on the right. 'PEANUT CUBES' with '6295' in the bottom left corner and 'WSD / 11' in the right. 'PINEAPPLE-GRAPEFRUIT DRINK / 5 oz. water / 2-5 minutes' with '6294' printed and the 'WSD / 11' stamp next to it. On the back of the package written on foil inside the sealed plastic is, 'DAY-1 MEAL-A'.

Dimensions

Height

35 mm

Width

292 mm

Production

Notes

Space food for the Gemini program (NASA's second crewed spaceflight program) was developed by the US Army Natick Laboratories (Natick, Massachusetts) in conjunction with the NASA Manned Spacecraft Centre (later the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre), Houston, Texas. Derived and improved from the earlier Mercury program food, Gemini space food was able to provide the complete nutritional requirements for each astronaut for up to two weeks in orbit, including the replacement of those minerals and vitamins lost from the body under microgravity conditions. The food was designed to be lightweight and compact (because of weight and storage space restrictions on board the spacecraft), stored without refrigeration, able to be safely handled and consumed under weightless conditions, able to withstand severe thermal and mechanical stresses and low residue (to reduce bowel movements and flatulence). Freeze-drying was developed for the Gemini program in order to produce space foods that met the above criteria and which, at the same time, retained the shape, colour and/or taste of the food product, in order to make the food palatable to the astronauts. The space meal menu was designed to provide the astronauts with 10,500 kilojoules per man daily. The caloric distribution was 17% protein, 32% fats and 51% carbohydrates.

Gemini space food was manufactured to the special guidelines for nutritional content developed by the US Army Natick Laboratories and NASA's Manned Spacecraft Centre by various commercial food companies contracted to NASA. Common processes used to prepare Gemini space food included dehydration (removal of water) and freeze-drying (in which food is first frozen and then dried by the application of carefully controlled heat, in near-vacuum, to sublimate the ice directly to water vapour). Both these techniques, while previously known, were greatly improved via research to be applied to space food. They were then transferred to the commercial food processing industry, where they form the basis of processing many modern convenience foods. Foods to be freeze-dried were first sliced, diced, granulated, powdered or liquified to facilate processing. The freeze-drying process took place after cooking or initial processing. Bite-size foods, such as sandwiches, were compressed or moulded into 1.9cm cubes and coated with an edible gelatin film to reduce or eliminate crumbs. They were sometimes also freeze-dried or dehydrated. When eaten, they were partially reconstituted by the saliva in the mouth as they were chewed.

This meal would have been manufactured some time during the period of the Gemini space missions, which were conducted between March 1965 and November 1966.

History

Notes

Gemini space food was used on US Gemini two-person space flights between 1965-66. On each flight the crew were provided with four meals per day, nominally breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper, designated Meals A, B, C, D. This meal is labelled Day-1 Meal-A, indicating it as the first meal to be eaten on the first day of a mission. Although designated Meal-A, this meal is a lunch, not a breakfast and would have been the first meal eaten in-flight after a morning launch (breakfast would have been eaten at the Kennedy Space Centre, prior to launch). Meals were planned so that the same menu was repeated after 4 days. This provided enough variety to prevent the astronauts becoming bored with the menu, while reducing the need for NASA to maintain a large selection of food varieties. Prior to each flight, the crew selected their individual menu preferances from the range available and each meal was then individually labelled with its day and meal number. Food was stored in the spacecraft food lockers in the order in which it was to be consumed. The individual items in each meal were prepared for eating according to their processed form. Dehydrated food and drink were rehydrated with tepid water (21 C) produced from the spacecraft fuel cells. This water was dispensed into the food bag through its valved nozzle, using a pistol-like device. Each sachet was labeled with the specific quantity of water required to rehydrate that particular item. Freeze-dried foods were rehydrated in the same manner. The rehydrated foods were then consumed by squeezing them into the mouth through the food tube, which was unfolded after cutting the plastic strip that held it down. Many bite-size foods did not need reconstitution and were eaten as is after removing their wrapping. After the meal chewing gum was used to clean the teeth and the skin cleaning towel to cleanse the face and hands. To clean, the sterilising tablet was added to each food sachet and all used food containers were placed inside the meal package which was then stored in the rubbish locker until the spacecraft returned to Earth.

This meal was prepared for use on a Gemini flight, but it never flew in space (possibly the astronaut changed his mind about his meal choice, or it may have been a demonstration package). According to information supplied by the vendor, it came into the possession of a NASA employee from the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Centre, Houston, Texas, who possibly 'souvenired' it when the unused Gemini food stocks were being disposed of. This NASA employee sold the meal package to a space memorabilia dealer, who then on-sold it to the vendor.

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1995

Acquisition Date

13 February 1995

Cite this Object

Harvard

Space meal package from Gemini mission 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 August 2019, <https://ma.as/147963>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/147963 |title=Space meal package from Gemini mission |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 August 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display at the Powerhouse Museum.

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