Apparently it’s becoming more and more difficult to get our brave astronauts to eat their freeze-dried dinners.
Jean Hunter, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell University, recently described the problem simply as “menu fatigue.” Hunter and her associates have lately received a $947,000 NASA grant to conduct a 120-day analog study in a simulated Mars habitat, where a team of volunteers will compare crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared meals to see which ones make them gag the least. It’s an expensive-but-crucial study. Seems our boys are simply bored with the same old NASA cuisine and as a result are, on long duration missions, inclined to eat less and run a higher risk of the condition known as “space hunger.”
This of course puts the astronaut’s health and the overall mission at risk. Mission Control operator Charles Doggett of Kennedy Space Center said, “It’s getting really bad up there. They’re not eating their greens. At first we tried the whole ‘You can’t have your freeze-dried ice cream until you’ve eaten your freeze-dried cabbage’ routine, but that didn’t work because we’re all the way down here at Mission Control and we can’t really enforce any of our rules. They call our bluff every time. We hear them laughing at us in our earpieces. So we tried to sneak some cabbage-infused dehydrated ice cream up there on one of the supply runs but the boys up there, they hated it, absolutely hated it, and then they said they hated us, too, and they didn’t take any of our calls for three days. We don’t have the budget for that. It’s a real bad case of ‘menu fatigue.’”
The solution? NASA, in a joint effort with the European Space Agency, intends to institute a system of appropriate rewards for good astronaut behavior. “If they eat their ‘boring’ freeze-dried beef dinners—I mean the entire packet—we’ll allow each of them fifteen minutes with the robotic arm. They love that thing.”