Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Space is For Cookie. That's Good Enough for Me!

          By Brian Orlotti

New York NY based Zero G Kitchen LLC (ZGK) has unveiled its design for a space oven. The oven is designed to freshly prepare small basic foods such as rolls, cookies, patties and pockets for long duration space travel.

The appliance is the first of a planned ‘Kitchen in Space,’ an open platform for food development in space and zero-gravity environments.

As outlined in the November 15th, 2018 ZGK press release, "Zero G Kitchen Prepares to Launch its First Appliance to Space," the space oven will be built in partnership with Houston TX based NanoRacks, a private firm which manages payloads and safety processes for the International Space Station (ISS).

The ‘Kitchen in Space’ ecosystem will also see space-adapted versions of other household appliances, including a refrigerator, a blender, a slow cooker and more. ZGK will work with food companies, educators, researchers, appliance engineers and aerospace organizations, to optimize its designs.

ZGK expects to complete building and testing its space oven before year’s end, with delivery to the ISS in early 2019. ZGK has already signed up its first client, and an announcement is expected in early 2019.

Cooking or baking of fresh food in space would offer numerous benefits and opportunities.

Astronauts, currently limited to pre-packaged, microwaveable tv-dinner type meals, would see psychological benefits from the sights and smells of fresh cooking. The human sense of smell’s effect on mood and memory is scientifically documented. Pleasing, positive smells, such as baking cookies or burning wood can trigger a sense of security, cooperation and calm.

Smell has also been linked to memory, with certain smells evoking earlier life experiences stored in the brain. These effects could prove a potent antidote to the stress, boredom and isolation astronauts encounter during space missions.

In addition, operating cooking appliances in space environments would provide an opportunity for research into the differences between zero-gravity and terrestrial cooking, enabling further refinement of the preparation of space-served meals.

A comparable analogy on Earth would be the difference between combustion engines operating at sea level or at high altitudes. At higher altitudes, lower oxygen levels and atmospheric pressure cause combustion engines to be less powerful and efficient, which in turn has driven the development of alternate designs that overcome these issues.

Over the coming decades, the greater tempo and scope of space activity will see more humans in space than ever. The soothing effects of freshly-cooked space meals could not only aid the success of space travel, but also shape the solar system spanning civilization to come.

To paraphrase the great gourmand Cookie Monster, space is for cookie, that’s good enough for me!
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a network operator at the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), a not-for-profit network service provider to the education and research sectors.

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