The job of cooking pre-flight meals for astronauts is as much as a staff of cooks at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle which purpose to make their visitors really feel at residence — and maintain them protected earlier than flight.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
4 astronauts head for the Worldwide House Station early tomorrow morning. And as they put together, NASA’s individuals have been quarantining on the Kennedy House Middle in Florida. They’ve their very own bedrooms, fitness center, even private cooks. So what do they eat in there? From member station WMFE, Brendan Byrne studies.
BRENDAN BYRNE, BYLINE: The tiny galley kitchen at Kennedy House Middle’s astronaut crew quarters seems identical to any industrial restaurant. It is obtained all of the staples, like a convection oven, a variety and a dishwasher. However what units this place aside is the tableware.
BILL FARINA: All of the…
(SOUNDBITE OF PLATES CLATTERING)
FARINA: …Distinctive plates – these have been round since Mercury days.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: It actually was right here in – yeah.
FARINA: Mercury days.
BYRNE: Invoice Farina’s chef’s jacket is roofed in mission patches as he holds plates which have been round because the Sixties. He is one of many cooks who cooks for astronauts earlier than their mission. To maintain the crew away from any germs which may make them sick or germs they may carry as much as the area station, they enter an almost two-week quarantine, first on the Johnson House Middle in Houston, then right here in Florida, only a few miles from the rocket that can take them to orbit. Farina’s job is to maintain them fed. And he does that with fellow chef Joe Alfano. They get their recipes from NASA’s astronaut workplace, however they do have some artistic liberties. Their menus mirror the likes of the astronauts and their cultural backgrounds.
JOE ALFANO: We have finished all the pieces from Thai meals to eggs Benedict to, you understand, a bit of contemporary fish from Florida, burgers, steaks. I imply, you title it – shepherd’s pies, one thing that their mom used to make.
BYRNE: Quarantining forward of their upcoming mission is NASA’s Crew-7, 4 area fliers from the U.S., Denmark, Japan and Russia. They stay in what seems like a school dorm, the place they will make last preparations, take part in briefings, go to household and swimsuit up earlier than flight. This facility at KSC has been round because the Apollo moon missions. The preflight custom goes again to NASA’s early days of human spaceflight, says historian and collectspace.com editor Robert Pearlman. For the company’s first human launch in 1961, Alan Shepard had a breakfast of steak and eggs.
ROBERT PEARLMAN: The thought was to have a meal that was filling and wealthy in protein as a result of he is likely to be ready to launch for a substantial period of time – they did not need him to get hungry once more – but additionally low residue as a result of there was no rest room onboard the spacecraft.
BYRNE: That meal custom continued by means of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and the area shuttle program, with some astronauts asking for steak and eggs forward of their mission. However the menu has grown. Janet Kavandi is a retired NASA astronaut who flew on three shuttle missions. She says whereas the menu is exclusive to every crew, one merchandise stays the identical.
JANET KAVANDI: There have been at all times cookie jars filled with cookies, despite the fact that these are in all probability not the most effective factor for you simply earlier than you go fly.
BYRNE: Chef Farina is baking dozens of these cookies for this upcoming crew. As a lifelong Florida House Coast resident who adopted NASA since childhood, cooking for astronauts is a deal with.
FARINA: By no means in my wildest goals did I ever think about that I might be right here and cooking for these – I name them true American heroes.
BYRNE: And after Farina and fellow chef Joe Alfano prepare dinner that final meal for the crew earlier than their flight, the staff will wash these NASA dishes, clear that small galley kitchen and begin planning the menu for the following group of astronauts to dine with them. For NPR Information, I am Brendan Byrne on the Kennedy House Middle in Florida.
(SOUNDBITE OF BRENT FAIYAZ SONG, “WASTING TIME (FEAT. DRAKE AND THE NEPTUNES)”)
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