By Jack Robert Stacey
Space, the final frontier. A massive expanse containing unimaginable quantities of stars, uncharted planets, contained within a vacuum that makes it almost uninhabitable. However, an experiment conducted by astronauts at the International Space Station may have foregrounded our future habitation in an unfamiliar environment.
Utilising a specially designed oven that was launched from Virginia in November, five cookies were baked at varying lengths of time by astronauts Luca Parmitano and Christina Koch. The experiment aims to test the capacity for long-term space travel; seeking what cooked meals would be viable for astronauts on voyage. It was initially found that although it takes 22 minutes to bake cookies with similar ingredients on Earth, it takes a considerably longer amount of time to replicate this in space.
The oven itself was an updated iteration of Zero G Kitchen’s developmental prototype called ‘Luigi Lab’. Zero G Kitchen’s is a company that has been developing the world’s first zero gravity oven. The cookies were composed of the correct ingredients for the zero gravity environment, are cooked in a similar manner to a toaster as they are heated between cylindrical electric heating elements.
The experiment was announced with a post by Christina Koch on Twitter which states: “We made space cookies and milk for Santa this year. Happy holidays from the @Space_Station.”
On the 7th of January, three of the cookies were delivered back to Earth via the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and are currently undergoing expensive scientific testing, evaluating if they are safe for consumption. The dough supplier for the experiment, Double Tree, suggested that additional testing be conducted “to determine the final results of the experiment”.
Although no conclusive evidence on the experiment’s results have been officially released yet, this development proves to be very promising. Regardless of this, our future expansion and exploration out into the vast recesses of space may have been greatly aided… by a handful of cookies.