Living in space is, understandably, not like living on Earth.
Those of us on the ground rarely think twice about the more mundane aspects of life. But in space, something simple like grocery shopping turns into a multi-day mission, complete with rocket launches and official countdowns.
On Sunday, NASA sent 7,400 pounds of groceries and supplies to the International Space Station on a cargo rocket.
Although most of the astronaut’s grocery list is prepackaged food, this shipment includes a special “cool box,” filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce is a rare treat for the space crew, according to Space.com, considering that most of their meals are freeze-dried packages of space food or the occasional head of lettuce grown in space.
The shipment also includes science experiments for the astronauts to conduct, a new laser-based communication system, and a virtual-reality camera from National Geographic. The crew will also receive “traditional Thanksgiving food items” alongside Christmas presents and care packages from their family on the ground.
Once astronauts receive their shipment of food (expected to arrive Tuesday morning), they will unload the cargo hold and repackage it with trash collected from the space station over the past few months. They will send it back out and it will burn up when re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
The meals will then go into a storage facility. It is a space station job that every day, one person must go to the cargo to get all the meals for the following day.
Typical meals are freeze-dried and hot water is re-added once it’s time to eat. And astronauts must eat all of their meals. They have to follow a specific, pre-planned menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner as scientists are constantly studying their bodies’ reactions to the meals.
Food is resupplied to the space station every 90 days, according to NASA, so astronauts will have to wait until February for the next grocery store run.