Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are celebrating Thanksgiving with traditional foods, irradiated, thermostabilized and freeze-dried to perfection.
On the holiday menu for the Expedition 42 crew are irradiated smoked turkey, thermostabilized candied yams and freeze-dried green beans and mushrooms. NASA's very own freeze-dried cornbread dressing will be served, and there is thermostabilized cherry-blueberry cobbler for dessert.
Commander Barry "Butch" Wilmore and Flight Engineer Terry Virts of NASA, Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova of Russia's Roscosmos and Italian Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency can just add water and enjoy.
While space food hasn't changed too much over the years, that may soon change. Earlier this year a plant growth system named Veggie was activated on the ISS, and lettuce seedlings were sprouted in orbit and sent back to Earth for testing.
NASA says another traditional holiday food, the sweet potato, may be enjoyed fresh by astronauts in the future as they adapt well to artificial sunlight and a variety of vine-training architectures. While the root forms the potato, the side shoots can be eaten in salads.
But food on most deep-space missions will likely still be irradiated, thermostabilized and freeze-dried, with more advanced methods to extend shelf-life and nutrition.