Canadian astronaut to enjoy 4 types of smoked salmon during space station visit


LONGUEUIL, Que. — Smoked salmon, shrimp cocktails, pate, chocolate fondue and maple syrup are all headed for space.

Those tasty foods will be part of David Saint-Jacques’ menu during the Canadian astronaut’s upcoming six-month stay on the International Space Station.

Natalie Hirsch, food co-ordinator at the Canadian Space Agency, says Saint-Jacques taste-tested 50 different products and rated them from one to 10, with those scoring seven and above making the cut.

“When David came to us for his first meeting about his menu, we looked at what he was interested in and looked at what was available,” she told reporters Thursday.

“We had a second meeting with him, presented him with products that he suggested and other products we thought would meet his criteria.”

Hirsch said the Canadian astronaut, whose launch has been rescheduled to Dec. 20, likes savoury foods and “really enjoyed the salmon.”

So four types of salmon were selected and Saint-Jacques, 48, took to all of them.

“When you look at a six-month menu, you want to make sure that there’s a lot of variety,” Hirsch noted.

“So that’s why there’s a number of different types of salmon products because over six months, you don’t want to give just one type.”

The salmon will be sent to the space station in metal pouches, but at least one food item, pad Thai, a noodle dish, will have to be repackaged by NASA’s food lab.

Hirsch, who has been at the space agency for 18 years, has worked on preparing the food menus for five missions involving Canadian astronauts.

There’s always a concern about crumbs getting into the space station’s ventilation system, so maple cream cookies being sent with Saint-Jacques will be repackaged and vacuum-packed in small quantities. Most of the food is either dehydrated or canned.

NASA has also developed a tortilla that allows astronauts to create their own sandwiches because bread crumbs could also jam up the works.

She pointed out there’s no refrigerator on the space station, so all food must have a shelf life of at least one year — and ideally 18 months.

Hirsch added that over the years, food portions sent to the station have been getting larger but that astronauts’ diets are carefully monitored.

“We can track what they eat, evaluate how they’re eating and if they’re short on something, we can make recommendations.” she said.

All the products selected for Saint-Jacques’ menu are commercially available and can be bought in stores.

The first food shipment will be sent up to the orbiting space laboratory in June aboard a SpaceX “Dragon” cargo vessel.

Saint-Jacques won’t be restricted to his Canadian menu. He will also enjoy foods that have been prepared by NASA and other space agencies, including pasta, minestrone and Russian borscht that comes in a tube.

The European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency also provide food from their jurisdictions.


Peter Rakobowchuk, The Canadian Press