Thirst in Space

Former NASA astronaut Michael J. Bloomfield—commander of the Atlantis and Endeavour shuttles—discusses zero-gravity beverage consumption

What food or drink do people crave the most up there?

You like foods that are spicier. The thing that you crave the most—it’s fresh fruit, believe it or not. The other thing I noticed that people crave on long-duration missions: things that are cold. On my last flight we invited the space station crew over to the shuttle for dinner. They had been up there for about five months. I’ll never forget: I was filling up the lemonade. The water comes from the liquid hydrogen and the liquid oxygen that are used for the fuel cells, so they’re cryogenic. The water that comes out of there is very cold. I remember floating a packet of lemonade to a Russian guy. His eyes lit up because of the coldness of it. Instead of drinking it, he was putting it on his neck and face. So a cold drink is very welcome if you have access.
Consuming any liquid in space is a delicate process, no?
You can’t use a typical cup or bottle, because the fluid would go everywhere. Right now we use these bags that have a straw on them, and the straw has a clamp.
Could there be a place for beer in space?
When you put someone up there six months, the ability to get everybody around the table at least one time during the day and sit and share stories and food is just really important. Beer is part of our culture and our social way of life. So, I guess, just from that point of view, it would play a role. But not to the point that people are getting drunk and causing problems.
Orbiting-while-intoxicated wouldn’t be considered safe?
You don’t want people hitting the wrong switches and that kind of stuff. I don’t know. But [the beer] would be interesting to taste.
If you went up on a civilian flight, what beverage would you order to drink?
If it’s on a civilian-run operation and you’re in a hotel and you don’t have access to something you can do damage to, then by all means, you should enjoy an adult beverage. We’ll call it that.

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