Have you ever wondered what it’s like taking a trip very far away, and not to any exotic place on Earth, but to space? Leaving your home planet and heading for the endless vacuum zone. It’s surreal and breathtaking, right? At the same time it is very important for the general progress of humankind.

For over half a century astronauts are being trained and the technology is developed and improved, so people can travel to space and explore the secrets of the Universe. It all started with Yuri Gagarin who orbited the Earth back in the 1960’s, and nowadays we are even preparing for a manned mission to Mars.

Even though travelling to space is exciting and magical, there are plenty of important things the human body needs to prepare for, such as the microgravity. Even the basic daily routines, such as sleeping, taking a bath, eating, cleaning etc. function very differently in space. For starters, in order to maintain good water management, the astronauts only freshen up in the mornings with literally a few drops of water and a washing cloth. The same applies for brushing their teeth; only a few drops of water and a small amount of toothpaste.

But how do astronauts deal with one of the most important human needs – eating? Since there are consequences to the human body of living in a weightless environment, food and nutrition play an important role in helping astronauts properly balance the human physiology. There are several norms and criteria that define what astronaut food should be like. It is very expensive to bring and store food at the space station, so food has to be space efficient, lightweight and shelf-stable, but also tasty, nutritious and preferably sticky, so it sticks to the utensil and doesn’t float away.

The food on the first missions was prepared in cubes and tubes. It provided the nutrition the astronauts needed, but it certainly wasn’t very delicious. Today, space food is more similar to the food we eat on Earth, or rather similar to the camping food.

Check out this infographic in order to learn what and how astronauts eat today and how the space food evolved in the last 50 years.  Click to see a larger, more legible version.

What it's like to eat like an astronaut in space.