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Astronauts Will Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner In Space


And now this - Thanksgiving in space. This year, two American astronauts will be celebrating the holiday aboard the International Space Station. As NPR's Geoff Brumfiel reports, Thanksgiving in orbit has its pros and cons.

GEOFF BRUMFIEL, BYLINE: OK, so the first a definite pro of Thanksgiving in space is no last-minute runs to the store. All your food gets delivered - well, usually. This year the Thanksgiving groceries didn't make it.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Once again, an unmanned rocket that was carrying supplies for the International Space Station exploded moments ago.

BRUMFIEL: When it blew up in October, the turkey went with it. But on the pro side, NASA has plenty of back-up food, including turkey, already on board.

VICKIE KLOERIS: They have a several-month supply, and the reason we keep such a good supply is if we should lose a cargo vehicle, we have to have a reserve supply of food.

BRUMFIEL: Vickie Kloeris is in charge of the space station's menu, which has some good Thanksgiving options.

KLOERIS: Cornbread dressing, mashed potatoes - we have candied yams, a variety of desserts that they can choose from.

BRUMFIEL: And what's more - there's no cooking to worry about.

KLOERIS: We do not have any way to really cook anything on the space station. You're strictly warming up items that are already fully cooked.

BRUMFIEL: You can't dry out the turkey, or anything, really. A lot of the food is already dehydrated. It may sound like the perfect holiday. Oh, and another plus - no relatives turning up at the last minute expected to be fed. But there are some problems. For one thing, NASA can't make pumpkin pie in space.

KLOERIS: The whole pie crust thing is kind of lost in our system.

BRUMFIEL: And weightlessness messes with your sense of smell.

KLOERIS: There's a lot of things going on on the space station that inhibit their ability to get aroma from the food.

BRUMFIEL: Without those wonderful smells, the food doesn't always taste very good.

KLOERIS: Like when you and I have a cold on the ground and everything pretty much tastes like cardboard.

BRUMFIEL: Fortunately, there's plenty of spicy space condiments. Maybe try some wasabi or sriracha sauce on your turkey this year and just pig out. You're not going to put on extra pounds because, well, you don't weigh anything to begin with. Geoff Brumfiel, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Geoff Brumfiel works as a senior editor and correspondent on NPR's science desk. His editing duties include science and space, while his reporting focuses on the intersection of science and national security.