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By the end of the decade, we will send a breakfast casserole to the moon

Tim Nelson
August 06, 2018

Dining in space isn’t easy. Zero-gravity conditions make even the most basic culinary tasks feel nearly impossible, and getting food from hand to mouth requires enormous effort and concentration. It’s enough to make some of the smartest scientific minds look completely uncoordinated.

Luckily, NASA has some of the nation’s best and brightest dedicated to the task of making extraplanetary eating easier: American high schoolers. Recently, the organization that first put a man on the moon (or at least that’s what the government wants you to think) hosted a cooking competition wherein 30-plus teams of culinary whiz kids from around the country were tasked with whipping up a breakfast entree suitable for eating on the International Space Station.

Outsourcing cooking to high schoolers isn’t the result of NASA budget cuts. Rather, it’s part of a longer-running program called High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH). Since launching 13 years ago, HUNCH has seen more than 150 schools and 20,000 students working to “creat[e] all kinds of products to improve the lives of the Space Station crew.” Now in its 4th annual installment, HUNCH’s culinary challenge series aimed to test the food science skills and kitchen creativity in order to help astronauts on the ISS feed themselves.

After fierce competition and some stern-looking judges, the winners were a team of aspiring chefs from Decatur High School in Decatur, Alabama. They served up an orange-blackberry breakfast casserole that looks exactly like the kind of compact, nutrient-dense meal that could fill up space travelers without flying off into important equipment. The plating was excellent too, but that part probably won’t make its way up into space.

There are very few people who can claim that their cooking is literally out of this world, but those four Decatur HS students are among them. Thanks to their help, figuring out what to eat for breakfast is now the one question about whatever the hell “Space Force” is and how it will work that’s been answered.  

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