The early astronauts relied on a diet of strange powders, purees, and freeze-dried cubes during the first stages of space exploration. Modern astronauts can enjoy a selection of freeze-dried meals, snacks, and desserts.
The upgrade is quite substantial, but it cannot be compared to the taste of a freshly-cooked meal. Engineers and researchers are working on methods that could allow astronauts to prepare more foods in space and a custom-made oven will allow the ISS astronauts to prepare cookies on site.
As expected, the oven features experimental technology as it was created by a space company that is specialized in the development of tools for the ISS. The device was loaded among other provisions and cargo sent towards the ISS with a resupply spacecraft on November 2.
The design of the oven is quite interesting as it is shaped in the form of a cylinder. It can be inserted into the same tool that is used for scientific experiments that involve electricity, and it was built to withstand the microgravity environment found in space.
One of the employees who contributed to the development of the oven stated that the biggest challenge was the need to keep the cookie dough stable as the microgravity would allow it to float around the oven.
To address the task, the team decided to include a sealed tray that can keep the cookie dough still after it is placed in the oven. When the cookies are baked the tray will be moved to a built-in cooling. Astronauts will not be able to collect them before they reach room temperature and this means that the smell of fresh cookies will not be present in the ISS.
It will be interesting to see if cookies baked in space taste differently in comparison to the ones baked on Earth. Access to cooked food is beneficial from the astronauts, and more appliances could be developed in the future.