NPR

50 Years After Apollo 11, Here's What (And How) Astronauts Are Eating

Ever since astronaut John Glenn's first bite of applesauce in 1962, eating in space has been a challenge. NPR talks to former NASA food scientists to see how cosmic cuisine has evolved over the years.
Some of the space food that was scheduled to be carried on the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission included (from left to right): chicken and vegetables, beef hash, and beef and gravy. Source: Bettmann

In 1969, Charles Bourland flew to Houston to interview for a food scientist position at NASA's Johnson Space Center. From his hotel's lobby, he watched with millions of Americans as Apollo astronauts took their first steps on the moon.

It was a "pretty impressive thing" to witness while considering a NASA job, he remembers with a chuckle.

Bourland, now 82, came onboard that year; he retired in 2000. In his 31 years as a NASA food scientist, he did a lot of things to improve the quality of what astronauts eat, including adding potassium back into processed goods.

Being a NASA food scientist can be tricky — the team has had to address a range of challenges, from extending shelf lives by years to maximizing nutritional value and minimizing weight to keeping

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
Suicide Bomber Kills 63, Injures 182 At Wedding Reception In Kabul
More than 1,000 people had gathered at a hall in a Shiite neighborhood to celebrate a wedding. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack Sunday.
NPR10 min read
My Grandfather, A Killer
Denise Guerra, a second-generation Filipino American, never met her grandfather. When she finally learned a long-held family secret, it shattered her view of the quintessential immigrant narrative.
NPR3 min read
In 'Gods With A Little G,' The Kids Are Alright
Tupelo Hassman's novel about a group of teenagers at loose ends in a tiny town run by Christian fundamentalists has some dark moments, but ultimately it's as heartwarming as it is beautifully written.