Servair created a space-friendly gourmand meal for the astronauts of the upcoming Alpha mission – right here’s how they did it…

Creating tasty meals for outer area isn’t any imply feat…

Servair, the French and African chief in airline catering, has been requested by the European Area Company (ESA) to develop a gourmand menu appropriate for consumption in area.
The intergalactic banquet can be loved by French astronaut, Thomas Pesquet, and his colleagues, who can be travelling to the Worldwide Area Station (ISS) as a part of the upcoming Alpha area mission.
The ESA and NASA require a shelf lifetime of a minimum of two years at room temperature and observe very strict hygiene and well being requirements, so how do you create a gourmand product which isn’t solely protected for area transportation but additionally tastes good?
New Meals spoke to Deborah Rolland, Advertising, Innovation and New Markets Improvement Division, from Servair to seek out out extra.
Secure for area
To develop this menu, the Servair staff needed to observe strict vitamin guidelines (lower than 500mg of salt per serving and no alcohol), change its manufacturing from contemporary to sterilised – whereas retaining the identical flavours – and adapt recipes so the meals may match into luggage and be protected for consumption past the Earth’s environment.

The largest problem was growing a gourmand product with the constraints of warmth remedy and lowered sodium and alcohol content material, similtaneously delivering a menu which provided a dense texture appropriate for consumption in weightlessness, the staff defined.
To make sure the preservation of style qualities whereas guaranteeing their period by a really lengthy shelf life at room temperature, Servair’s engineers labored in collaboration with the CTCPA (Technical Middle for the Conservation of Agricultural Merchandise) and selected a expertise whereby the completed product is sterilised in a versatile bag.
Servair Company Chef Francois Adamski (L) and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet (R)
Storage
The versatile bag expertise allowed the cooks to create a product that is still steady even in excessive circumstances.
Not like conventional canning, this pouch permits the product to retain its unique flavours, whereas sustaining a really lengthy shelf life. The versatile pouch method additionally eases waste administration on board, compared to cans that should be lightened to match the ISS’ waste compactor operations.
The versatile pouch is made up of a number of layers of alternating aluminium and plastic, appropriate for meals contact and excessive temperature processing.
Contained in the ISS, the air is confined and recycled, due to this fact the staff had to make sure the packaging would restrict the so-called ‘off-gassing’ phenomenon, ie, with the least secondary emissions of doubtless poisonous gases.
“This versatile packaging additionally has the sensible benefit that it may be heated between two on-board heating plates, leading to homogeneous heating,” mentioned Rolland.
“Furthermore, the luggage are airtight and its contents sterile after using the autoclave. Micro-organisms and spores are eradicated when utilizing excessive strain and excessive temperature of 120-130°C.”
Weightlessness
To allow weightlessness consumption, the meals needed to be fairly thick, in order that not one of the sauce or small items of meals may escape within the cabin. If the meals is just too liquid, it runs the chance of turning into bubbles or breaking into small items that would block some air filters.
Style in area
When creating the menu, Servair organised a comparative tasting of the dishes ready within the sterilised, versatile luggage a couple of weeks earlier than for the astronauts to attempt. As soon as in area style turns into distorted, so the staff needed to alter the recipes whereas growing them.

“For me, it was important to protect the flavours of the dishes, whether or not they had been contemporary or in sterilised luggage,” François Adamski, Servair’s Company Chef, mentioned. “We labored diligently to regulate the seasonings each time till we obtained a product that was very shut in style to its non-space model.”
May this mission assist future meals?
The staff believes their work will “allow lengthy shelf-life meals manufacturing with a wonderful gustative end”. The method additionally has potential in different markets, together with retail, army ‘meal able to eat’ (MRE) and humanitarian meals.

Associated topicsFlavours & colors, Meals & Drink, Meals Security, Well being & Vitamin, Components, Packaging & Labelling, Processing, Product Improvement, Salt, Shelf life, Expertise & Innovation