Astronauts from the Ax-3 mission left a surprise for the Expedition 70 astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) before departing, according to Ax-3 commander Michael López-Alegría. The surprise was revealed during a NASA Television broadcast as the Crew Dragon “Freedom” undocked from the ISS. Waiting for the Expedition 70 crew in the airlock entrance was a beloved staple of astronaut food – peanut butter.
Axiom Space, the company behind the Ax-3 mission, typically uses various commercial off-the-shelf food products for their meal items in space. Peanuts have been a favorite among NASA astronauts for generations, with cubes of peanuts listed in the Gemini program menu in 1967 and even flown to the moon with the Apollo 11 landing crew in 1969.
During the Gemini and Apollo missions, astronauts would enjoy peanut cubes, along with other compressed items, according to NASA space food specialist Paul Lachance. Peanut butter, in the form of cubes or separate, was also mentioned in NASA documents and studies as part of the space food in the 1960s and 1970s.
Food preparation in space capsules has always been limited, with astronauts having to eat from tubes or packets or add water to powders or puddings. However, peanut butter has been a staple of the shuttle program and continues to be enjoyed by astronauts on the ISS. It has also made appearances in astronaut videos demonstrating space cooking.
The inclusion of peanut butter as a surprise for the Expedition 70 crew not only adds a touch of nostalgia but also emphasizes the significance of this beloved food item in space exploration. Despite advances in space food technology, astronauts still find comfort in the familiar taste of peanut butter, which has become symbolic of their unique dining experiences.
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