Spare no Expense: Nourishing the Astronauts
The average shuttle meal is chosen six months in advance, specially packaged, weighs 3.4 pounds, is carefully tested for bacteria and microbes, and costs about $300. Currently, Boeing industries process and prepare the shuttle foods. With an average shuttle mission lasting seven days, a minimum of 147 meals must be chosen, tested and packaged for each flight.
Waste is a familiar problem to Quartermasters who have operated field ration break points. Dr. Bourland noted that "astronauts always choose more food than they can eat." The result is hundreds of food items returned from every flight. Most astronauts are too busy to eat and just do not get hungry. Senator Garn agreed, noting that if he flew on the shuttle again he would choose fewer items. The 90-day menu alone consists of over 14,000 separate items.