Astronaut food has been the subject of lots of research and development ever since space explorers made voyages long enough to need a lunch break. While what astronauts eat has progressed significantly from the awful nutrients pushed out of a toothpaste tube, dinner for the folks on the international space station has, for the most part, consisted of prepackaged entrees and side dishes heated in a microwave. To be sure, the researchers on the ISS have been growing veggies in research gardens and have had the opportunity to eat the results of their experiments.

Now, the next first in space will consist of the first loaf of Bread to be baked on the space station.

The problem with bread in space

Bread was likely among the very first food early humans ate once they developed agriculture. However, as ZME Science notes, the problem with eating bread in space --not to mention baking it -- is that it gets crumbs everywhere. Crumbs are just a nuisance on Earth that have to be swept up. However, if crumbs float everywhere in a microgravity environment and get into equipment, they could potentially cause all sorts of problems. John Young got into trouble for eating a corn beef sandwich during the Gemini 3 mission as a result.

Baking in space

Since the Young sandwich kerfuffle, astronauts have been reduced to having their bread in gelatin-coated cubes or as tortillas.

But now, thanks to science, real bread is about to grace the International Space Station.

Oddly it has taken scientists over 50 years to figure out how to create a kind of bread that doesn’t have crumbs. A group of researchers from Germany has developed a type of dough that does not get crummy. The food scientists had to create a product that retains this property and at the same time is not too tough and chewy to be tasty.

The result is something like German breakfast rolls. The astronauts, as part of the Bake in Space experiment, will likely use a low powered convection oven to make the first fresh baked bread in space. It is hoped that the smell and taste of bread, dipped in olive oil perhaps, will take the edge off of being in a metal tube hurtling through space in low Earth orbit.

The baking challenge

The fact that Germany is going to take the prize of being the first to create freshly baked space bread is likely to be a challenge to every other country with a baking culture. The French, for example, pride themselves on their croissants and similar confections. Clearly, Germany’s next door neighbors have some work to do.