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NASA Sells Space Food, Shuttle Tiles To Schools

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the air-force-never-had-their-bake-sale dept.

NASA 120

iamrmani writes with word that NASA "is offering processed space shuttle tiles and astronaut food to eligible schools and universities to preserve history. The lightweight space shuttle tiles protected the shuttles from extreme temperatures when the orbiters re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, while space food was precooked such that refrigeration is not required and is ready to eat or could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating." I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general -- other than the ice cream, I've seen it only in museum displays.

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Probably costs a lot (3, Insightful)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37385848)

I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general

I suspect it probably costs more to produce than one could sell it for... and probably tastes like crap. Interested parties would buy it once for the novelty, then that would probably be it.

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37385864)

It's just freeze-dried food; you can buy that at your local camping supply shop.

Freeze drying was a novelty in the 1970s, it isn't today.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386274)

Don't even need to do that. I paid about $40 and bought a food dehydrator and a vacuum sealer. Combine those and you can do all of the above.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386436)

That's just dehydration, not freeze-drying; a proper freeze-drying rig costs thousands of dollars (a friend of mine with a farm has one that she uses to sell freeze-dried strawberries, which are delicious).

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387258)

I think that if NASA were serious in considering the generation significant funds; then maybe NASA should take a hard look to selling Helium-3 obtained from the Lunar Surface, that would cause their funding to dramatically increase.

Meh (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387358)

The ice cream was awesome, because we were kids, and it was ice cream from outer space! But basically, yeah, it's just camping food. The Russians also got vodka, but I guess they won't be giving that to US school kids.

Astronauts don't eat freeze-dried ice cream (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388300)

The funny thing about the freeze-dried ice cream they sell at the Air & Space Museum and other places is that astronauts apparently don't like it... It went to outer space maybe once on Apollo 7 in 1968, and NASA hasn't packed it since.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeze-dried_ice_cream [wikipedia.org]

I do like it too, though, so at least there's more of it to go around for people like us (just wish there was a cheaper way to buy it than from tourist traps).

Re:Astronauts don't eat freeze-dried ice cream (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37389348)

(just wish there was a cheaper way to buy it than from tourist traps).

There is hope, according to that Wikipedia article:

Freeze-dried ice cream is sold by mail order

Now to find out who you order it from :)

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386008)

I wish NASA would finance future missions by selling interestingly packaged astronaut foods in general

I suspect it probably costs more to produce than one could sell it for... and probably tastes like crap. Interested parties would buy it once for the novelty, then that would probably be it.

I don't see why the processing would be THAT expensive. Hell, look at McDonalds french fries. Ever pull one out from under your car seat that is months old? Damn thing still looks like it just came out of the fryer. Who the hell needs freeze-dried NASA processing when we have nuclear grade McPreservatives...

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Anrego (830717) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386058)

I don't see why the processing would be THAT expensive.

The cynic in me says they'd find a way. The legitimate stuff is probably produced to very high specifications and probably goes through some kind of rigorous certification process. For general consumption they could of course skip all that, but then as was said above by AC, it’s just freeze-dried food that is already readily available.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386086)

I have a friend who very seriously orders McDonalds quarter pounders exclusive to consume whilst driving. Why? Because when he drops it, it simply bounces. He picks it up, and continues to chow down on his *ahem* "tasty burger".

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386136)

You could do the same thing with a home-cooked french fry. Some foods don't readily spoil.

Ever had aged cheeses or hams? Those have been sitting in some warehouse for years without refrigeration or "nuclear grade McPreservatives". Old food != bad food.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386580)

Some foods don't readily spoil.

If bacteria won't eat it, it's not food.....

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

thesh0ck (1983948) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387042)

so um... honey is not food? honey will never go bad.. they have even found honey that was still edible in egyptian tombs.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

robthebloke (1308483) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387646)

If bacteria (and bears) won't eat it, it's not food.....

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387820)

no, it is not.
Honey is a resource that is waiting to be turned into must and fermented.
*Then* it is food.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387164)

You could do the same thing with a home-cooked french fry. Some foods don't readily spoil.

I make home-cooked fries. I challenge...no, dare you to come up with a home concoction that comes anywhere near the level of preservation of a McFry.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388240)

If I recall correctly, you give the shoestring cut potatoes a quick dump in beef tallow, freeze them. Then fry them again in beef tallow for about seven and a half minutes, taking them out for quick 15 second shake halfway through the cooking time. (I say beef tallow but I believe it's actually vegetable oil/beef tallow flavoring now) Either way, I think the trick is the first step.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386464)

I think the official name for 'nuclear grade McPreservatives' is 'salt'.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387186)

I think the official name for 'nuclear grade McPreservatives' is 'salt'.

I believe I have this stuff you call "salt" at home, as do 99% of other households. And yet, our food spoils normally.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388000)

The salt has to be in the food, in sufficient quantity, not next to it.

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37388236)

Then you're not covering your food in enough salt.

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386050)

I suspect it probably costs more to produce than one could sell it for... and probably tastes like crap. Interested parties would buy it once for the novelty, then that would probably be it.

Or it will be an annual gift to the inlaws, like fruitcake - the gift that keeps on giving.

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386140)

It's actually funny, my girlfriend's mother (I know, not technically an inlaw..) makes the best damn fruitcake in existence. She wrote out the recipe for me once, but it's full of statements like "until it looks right".

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386316)

Fruitcake is great if it is a cake with some fruit in it. But so many people make a "fruitcake" that is more compressed fruit and nuts then anything resembling a cake, and is only fit for display purposes.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387838)

I make a fruitcake. It is used as a carrier for the rum,

Re:Probably costs a lot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386312)

This boot ugg classic short boots [whowhatwear.com] is extremely comfortable, made with the finest twin-faced sheepskin and features a removable/replaceable fleece insole and a mylar lining that provides extra warmth. The Sundance II has reinforced suede heel and toe guards for increased durability, as well as a rubber lugged outsole for extra traction and slip resistance.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386768)

I'm sure they look real nice on you, AC.

Mod Parent SPAM please! (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386818)

It's link spam. Does Slashdot have a way to actually delete the comment, not just mod it -1 Troll?

Re:Mod Parent SPAM please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37387648)

Slashdot doesn't delete comments. To the best of my recollection only one was deleted and it was related to Scientology's inner secrets being leaked here.

Will you delete my comment?

No. We believe that discussions in Slashdot are like discussions in real life- you can't change what you say, you only can attempt to clarify by saying more. In other words, you can't delete a comment that you've posted, you only can post a reply to yourself and attempt to clarify what you've said.

In short, you should think twice before you click that 'Submit' button because once you click it, we aren't going to let you Undo it.

Keep in mind that's linkspam. It'd be awful if someone LOIC'ed the site for spamming Slashdot.

Re:Probably costs a lot (2)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386372)

I suspect you are wrong. What the issue would be is that NASA doesn't produce this stuff, it pays contractors to develop it. And those contractors have the rights to the processes involved and it isn't like preserved food is cool and futuristic any more. It has been a long time since preserved food was such a novelty that people would pay a decent mark up for it (in the 19th century rich people used to serve horrid tinned meats because they were a novelty).

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386562)

You already can. The ice cream and strawberries are available at any camping supply store often including Walmart. I am willing to bet at least a good bit of the space food is just camping food. If you want to eat like an Astronaut just got to the camping section of your local Walmart.

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37387494)

The Space Shuttle just got canned.

If you want to eat like an astronaut, get the value meal at McDonald's. It's the only thing you can afford now.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386574)

If every adult male in China bought one item one time for $1, it would subsidize ~20% of the Webb telescope.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

jacksonyee (590218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386960)

Half the guys over here live on $2 a day, so even $1 would be a lot out of their pockets. 8-(

Now, if every adult male in the U.S. contributed $5, I could definitely go for that. It's about as good as the $3 campaign contributions on your taxes that you keep getting nagged about every year, and it would go to something that I could tell my kids about rather than how things used to be when the shuttle was still running and we could send our own astronauts to the ISS. [sighs]

Re:Probably costs a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37387154)

Your arithmetic is way, way off. There are about half a billion adult males in China. Assuming a profit of 5% of revenue (which is generous for the food industry), that comes to $25 million, or less than 0.3% of the estimated $8.7 billion cost of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Price vs Profit (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388032)

You seem to probably be making an elementary mistake. If you *sell* the food for $1, you are almost surely not *making* a dollar.

The food costs something to grow, harvest, ship to the processing center to be turned into 'space food', the processing costs money, then it has to be packaged, shipped, then there needs to be some sort of retail or wholesale seller who actually distributes the product. So, there's a lot of hands in the cookie jar.

It's hard to say if the costs would be less than $1 or not, but it's definitely not zero, so selling these packages for a $1 each would not generate $1 which could be put towards NASA's budget (I'm guessing NASA would be lucky to get 25 cents).

Re:Probably costs a lot (2)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386628)

Aren't MREs that the military uses basically the same thing, minus whatever is done to suit the specific environment of low-Earth orbit?

IIRC, MREs have a shelf life of about 10 years, require no refrigeration or reheating, although I think some come with heat tablets/packs that can warm the meals to make them more palatable.

The there's the whole world of hiker/mountaineering food, which is probably somewhere between MREs and the kind of packaged stovetop meals you can buy at the grocery store.

Besides whatever is taken into consideration for low gravity, about the only thing space food might do differently would be nutritional content. MREs I think are very high calorie and oriented towards young people doing strenuous work (soldiers in the field). Space food is probably more oriented towards lower calorie needs of astronauts who have less physical exertion and are generally older.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387610)

There are other considerations for astronaut menus, like favouring food that does not crumb readily to stop floating crumbs clogging instruments (although possibly not so much these days). In addition, the zero gravity environment means your nasal membranes swell, which reduces your sensitivity to flavours, meaning that they season the food more heavily - it would probably veer to the other side of palatable here on earth.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387914)

Astronaut food doesn't have to last 10 years without refridgeration or heating, though. It only has to last a few months. Also, it can't be too liquid as liquids ball up and float away (they also break easily). Also, adding water isn't easy to do (lack of gravity means water doesn't really "pour").

For something like a shuttle mission, they only had to last a couple of weeks or so (it's freshly prepared and packed). For ISS missions, it has to last a bit longer.

Finally, astronauts often get to pick their menus.

As for crumbliness, yes, it's a huge issue. It's why the only type of bread available is a tortilla.

Astronaut food is a lot different from the old MRE.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387924)

MREs are preserved food with the moisture intact. As the name suggests, they're ready to eat. It's basically tinned stuff except these days they ship in foil flat bags.

Dehydrated food would have to be rehydrated (e.g. like a pot noodle). I'm assuming NASA prefer the latter because they don't want to be hauling a bunch of dead weight water up into space when they'd have systems for recycling it anyway. I doubt it tastes anywhere as nice and takes more time to prepare it.

I think MREs would generally be better for situations where you need to eat rapidly perhaps without the benefit of fresh water and the time to prepare food - war, natural disasters, zombie outbreaks.

Re:Probably costs a lot (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386784)

A better way to finance future missions would be to sell sticks with moon dust on one end - after all everyone wants the moon on a stick.

Re:Probably costs a lot (2)

milkmage (795746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387240)

actually - it's sounds pretty tasty. it's not like they take boxes of MREs.
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Food_for_Space_Flight.html [nasa.gov]

not all of it is dehydrated... they have (irridiated) steaks

scroll down for the base menu
http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/reference/factsheets/food.html [nasa.gov]

a week on the shuttle is manageable.. it's like camping.
a months long stint on the ISS is a different story... for a mission of that duration, food becomes a significant factor in crew morale. same reason submarine food is also said to be very good.

Re:Probably costs a lot (2)

stewbee (1019450) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387678)

As an ex submariner, I will add my $0.02. I would agree that the food on the sub wasn't too bad. It was certainly better than some of the other mess halls that I had eaten in, and I would attribute it to a few factors. The first one being was that I was probably never out to sea for more than three weeks between port visits. When we would visit a port we would always bring on fresh produce, milk, and meats. Also, the cooks only have to cook for about 120 men. This would mean that they could almost take their time and not rush to get the food out. And usually, the captain knew everyone on the ship, including the cooks, by name. If the captain likes your cooking, it looks good for you and your performance reviews. You mix all of these things together (pun intended), and I would say that you have all of the makings of usually* pretty good food.

*I say usually, because when we are in port, and if the cook got sh!tfaced the night before, he probably isn't going to have is A game that day when cooking. But hey, we were sailors after all.

Food Prices (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 2 years ago | (#37385876)

NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

Re:Food Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386196)

If mass produced, I think rehydratable food would have a massive market in the basement dweller population.

Re:Food Prices (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386732)

I am sure that it could make a profit (and I am sure it already does). But I am also sure NASA does not even make there own food, and is not at all equipped to mass produce it, let alone do so in a economical fashion.

Re:Food Prices (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386260)

You obviously haven't watched "Independence Day". That $10,000 toliet seat is paying for our secret moon base on the dark side of the moon.

The Back Side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37388562)

Please, don't say the dark side of the moon. The "Dark Side" gets the same amount of sun light that the "Light Side" gets, about 14 earth days worth if I remember correctly. The correct term should be "The back side of the moon", or possibly "The far side of the moon".

I know it's probably not a big deal, but really, there can be moon nazis too... right?

Re:Food Prices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386278)

NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat.

No, no they aren't. That would be the Air Force.

MILSPEC (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386388)

The problem is some poorly thought out parts of the specs. An entire plane has to be certified to withstand a given blast and not be damaged and the QA requirements are probably crazy too. This includes the toilet seat.

Re:Food Prices (2)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386422)

NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

You're right, they should just go the Lowe's and pick up a toilet + seat that's on sale. No big deal, I'm sure it would all work fine in a low / zero Gravity environment.

When you're working up there, certain things on the earth (that we take for granted) are a lot more complicated. When you have to custom build things to work up there, it's going to be obscenely expensive compared to mass-produced stuff for down here.

And before you mention the $1million pen, that's just a myth. It was done privately by Fisher, who sold it to NASA.

Re:Food Prices (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387614)

NASA is famous for paying $10,000 for a toilet seat. Can you imagine how much they pay for the food? Sure, it would be cool if they had it for sale - but I don't think they'll sell many meals if they are $1,000 each.

You're right, they should just go the Lowe's and pick up a toilet + seat that's on sale. No big deal, I'm sure it would all work fine in a low / zero Gravity environment.

Actually, no. It wouldn't. Your basic toilet+seat relies on gravity. Gravity holds the seat down. Gravity operates the float valves that control how much water is held in the tank. Gravity pulls the flush water into the bowl. Gravity closes the flap valve that ends the flush. Gravity creates the siphon that pulls the wastes into the sewage pipe. Afterwards, gravity holds the water at the bottom of the bowl, making a seal that prevents sewer gasses from entering the home.

In space, the seat wouldn't stay down. In space, the flush water would just stay in the tank (actually, it would creep along the surface of the tank and come out from underneath the lid (which wouldn't stay on, because it is held in place by gravity)). It wouldn't flush. There would be nothing to start the siphon that would normally pull the wastes away. But that doesn't matter. There would be nothing to pull the waste materials into the bowl in the first place.

Re:Food Prices (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387996)

And, that is only the start of the problems.
Seriously, having grown up in the aerospace business (Grandfather was a CMS at US AFLC base, grandmother worked in the tube shop, father was an aeronautical engineer for McDonnell Aircraft and later Douglas, and later yet the combined company, still later, at US AFLC as civilian, grandfather -in law was a QA inspector for maintenance hangers after retiring from the marines.

People don't understand the complexity in making things that do what is needed in extreme environments, especially when the production run is measured in single digits up to maybe 1000 units total. Cost is high because of NRE costs. Whether you make one or one million of something, you have to design it. If you only make 1 then it is the full engineering cost + fab cost. If you make 1,000,000 of them then the cost is fab cost + 1/1000000 of the engineering cost.

Thus, why I strongly suggest to NASA that they contract for 500 or so of the mars rovers and send them to the moon and mars en-masse. They are proven to be durable little buggers, and all the engineering work is done. They will be positively cheap compared to new designs and could really capture the public's interest.
-nB

Re:Food Prices (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388904)

Thus, why I strongly suggest to NASA that they contract for 500 or so of the mars rovers and send them to the moon and mars en-masse. They are proven to be durable little buggers, and all the engineering work is done. They will be positively cheap compared to new designs and could really capture the public's interest.

Except that boosters don't scale quite as well. It would still be 'expensive'. But it was seriously considered as an option instead of pushing forward with the Mars Science Laboratory [nasa.gov] . If that one screws up, then there will be a lot of 'told you so' from the Fast and Furious proponents.

Re:Food Prices (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387650)

And the whole smug "the Russians used a pencil" thing - well, floating, conductive graphite fragments in an environment full of vital electrical equipment doesn't strike me as a good idea.

Re:Food Prices (1)

EricWright (16803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387720)

Wax pencils?

Re:Food Prices (1)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387982)

There are several factors at work in the "boondoggle items" myth.

One is tolerances. If you need a 100 +/- .01 Ohm resistor, but can only buy off the shelf +/- 1 Ohm resistors, you need to buy and test, on average, 100 resistors for every one that proves to meet your requirements. So yes, it's "only" a 100 Ohm resistor, or a cosmic-ray hardened chip, but it costs at least 100x normal plus professional tester time.

Another is specificity. Sometimes you can't just look for a "good enough" off the shelf part... you need to pay a proper engineer to design a part to the specs you actually require, then get a custom fab to create it. This is where expensive toilet seats come from... there are NO seats at Home Depot that will work in space. Highly trained engineers spent real time (and therefore money) to figure out how to poop safely in space, then had the proper seats custom made.
Bespoke always costs more than off the rack.

Ouch (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386002)

NASA has a bake sale!? What's next? Engineers on street corners with cups and signs that say "Please Give"?

Re:Ouch (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386226)

I thought that described just about all open source projects in general

reminds me of 1993 (3, Funny)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386268)

Engineers on street corners with cups and signs that say "Please Give"?

... when I graduated. Aerospace department graduates had signs up that said "will build space shuttles for food."

Re:Ouch (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386608)

My sign says, "Will work for Porsche".

Re:Ouch (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388488)

Reminds me of a quote I heard a while back:

"Paradise will be when the schools get all the money they need, and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy another bomber."

No idea who said it, and I've probably butchered it.

Could be a great learning tool (2)

netwarerip (2221204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386102)

In the hands of the right teacher this is the kind of thing that could get kids interested in science, provided the teacher gets a chance to talk about them during the 3 minutes per class time that isn't used to teach them how to pass whatever standardized test is next on the schedule.

Re:Could be a great learning tool (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386764)

Ya, I sure was interested in tiles that can sustain massive amounts of heat and horrible tasting dehydrated food while I was in high school.

Re:Could be a great learning tool (2)

jacksonyee (590218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387032)

When I was growing up, it was ST: TNG which got me interested in science along with Mr. Wizard and a whole lot of good teachers along the way who introduced me to model rocketry, optics, and home chemistry sets. We've advanced so much since then in terms of homebrew projects and access to information via the Internet, but have also lost a lot in terms of freedoms and regulations since 9/11. So many things that we used to do because we were kids and sorely for fun are now outlawed or frowned upon in this time and age. It's hard to say whether this generation will have an easier time growing up than we did.

The thing that I've found after switching careers from a programmer in the U.S. to an English teacher in China is that kids are amazing resilient and playful wherever they are. All you have to do is to give them the right tools, a little push along the way, and it's incredible what they can accomplish. Now, the U.S. educational system is still an order of magnitude better than the Chinese one in many ways, but the rest of the world is catching up slowly, and it's quite possible that the playing field will be leveled in our lifetimes. I sorely wish that my current students will have a chance to get outside of the standardized testing mindset and be able to develop their own thoughts and ideas for themselves, but it's an uphill climb against society in both countries for different reasons. All we can do as teachers is to try.

Re:Could be a great learning tool (1)

netwarerip (2221204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387666)

I agree. I was lucky enough to have a couple of 'non-standard' teachers that brought a lot of wisdom and insight into what they taught, and really made things interesting. One guy that taught a global class (social studies) was a former state department worker that was stationed in the Middle East, and it was so much better to hear stories of what he got to do and see there than it would have been to read it in a dry textbook. Nowadays he probably wouldn't have time to talk to us like that, for fear of dropping a percentile on the state test(s). As far as the tile goes, I think at a certain age, likely elementary level, kids would be excited about being able to touch something that 'came from outer space'. Maybe it could create a spark in an otherwise uninterested mind. Jaded high school kids wouldn't be impressed by anything that wasn't a laser, phaser, or blaster, but to an 8-year old I would think it would be pretty cool.

Market already taken (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386106)

while space food was precooked such that refrigeration is not required and is ready to eat or could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating.

We use some variation on this when we go mountain hiking, it's basically a dried meal just add boiling water. Carry a light alcohol burner and you can get a good hot meal for almost no weight. There's also full ration kits that include energy bars and lots of other portable foods, like 3800 kcal in 1 kg weight. There's not really much new to be gained there, except you probably get food better suited for space and less suited for earth. And oh yeah, it's all relative - it's an okay meal but it's not how you'd do it at home, this process naturally has its limitations.

Re:Market already taken (1)

chelberg (1712998) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387380)

You have to think brand name, NASA as a brand is a big plus. They could initially have just the space-food, then they could branch out to camping food as well, where they could basically sell the food you are used to, but with the NASA brand, they would probably make more money.

The only down side I can see is that many would object to the federal government going into business, and competing against private companies. So what they could do instead is to license the NASA brand. I'm sure NASA could make some money off of this. It might reduce our taxes (although minimally). I think licensing a brand like NASA is akin to other licensing agreements the feds are already doing. As long as they don't dilute the brand, or put it on bad products, we may as well make some money off of it as it is a national resource.

If only you guys loved NASA more (0, Offtopic)

harrytuttle777 (1720146) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386160)

She wouldn't have had to die. But because you faggots didn't like NASA when she was alive, she died. Now she is selling off her food to pay for global cliamate change researchers.

Is NASA food different so it generates less waste? (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386190)

Why not have the astronauts consume gels similar to what athletes use?

Re:Is NASA food different so it generates less was (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386284)

Why not have the astronauts consume gels similar to what athletes use?

Complete lack of fiber intake causes various large intestinal issues after awhile. Also those gels are basically flavored HFCS, aren't they? Eating that much, they'd probably be dead from early onset diabetes before they land. Those gels are not very different from soda concentrate syrup, roughly equally healthy, and no one would eat them without massive ad budgets and sponsorship deals.

Re:Is NASA food different so it generates less was (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386556)

AFAIK those gels are essentially calorie bombs because top athletes can burn close to 10000 kcal a day. Nice if you already have all your dietary needs covered and just need more energy, but pointless for astronauts - and everybody else, really. For average people it's about as healthy as supersize meals.

Re:Is NASA food different so it generates less was (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386326)

Those gels are like gatorade without all the water, not like food.

Re:Is NASA food different so it generates less was (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386772)

But couldn't gels be a healthy protein/carb mix or whatever the body needs for a 2 week trip?

Re:Is NASA food different so it generates less was (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387774)

Producing a foodstuff like that which was still a gel composition would be hard. Dietary needs are complex and to keep the food as a gel would mean leaving things out.

There's a place for iron rations, like pemmican [wikipedia.org] , but they are no substitute for a varied diet.

Aside from the purely nutritional aspect, the psychological aspects are also important, especially on an arduous mission in a dangerous and confined environment. Each astronaut has an input into what goes on his menu because this is recognised as important for preserving their morale. Even the Matrix gets this right - you don't want to be eating the same "bowl of snot" for every meal, even if it is nutritionally complete.

Selling? Not _quite_ (1)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386218)

NASA isn't so much _selling_ as donating the tiles and food to schools and universities, and asking that they pay the shipping.

Space food is not that special anymore. (1)

Bocaj (84920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386310)

Now that freeze dried food is more readily available (http://www.mountainhouse.com/) it isn't as much of a novelty anymore. I am surprised we don't see the heat shield tile technology more. Lining an oven with these might improve efficiency. They just need to work on manufacturing costs.

Re:Space food is not that special anymore. (1)

Kagetsuki (1620613) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386458)

They are AeroGel: http://www.aerogel.org/ [aerogel.org] - and it's expensive as hell so unless you want that oven to cost more than you could ever possibly save in energy costs you're out of luck. If you could cheaply mass produce it on the other hand there is a massive market waiting for you.

Re:Space food is not that special anymore. (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386686)

Aerogels kick ass, and do have a number of space applications; but the space shuttle actually uses a variety [wikipedia.org] of other things.

I'm assuming that the "tiles" mentioned are the iconic black and white LI-900 thermal bricks that most of the body is coated with. Not quite as thermally radical as aerogel, and rather denser; but more mechanically robust.

Cant get spacefood? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37386356)

Hmmm been able to get space food for years at CyberCandi in Covent Garden

Hey kids, here's a relic for you (1, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386362)

Keep these as reminders of a time when we still sent men into space, when the U.S. was a superpower, and when we thought we would always keep moving forward.

Re:Hey kids, here's a relic for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37388380)

Did humanity ever really move forward in history? That depends...I'm not so sure about this as I used to be.

We have much more comfort than prehistoric men, but human condition hasn't changed in any way....So...what's the real advantage?

Re:Hey kids, here's a relic for you (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#37389002)

Keep these as reminders of a time when we still sent men into space, when the U.S. was a superpower, and when we thought we would always keep moving forward.

Easier to watch reruns of "The Jetsons [wikimedia.org] ".

A dupe from 1984? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386370)

... NASA is ... offering processed space shuttle tiles ... to eligible schools

Is this a dupe from 1983? If I recall from decades ago, according to the asset tag at my middle school, that's when we got our shuttle tile. 83-something. Back then they did not have bar code or RFID tags, at least where I was.

Now the actual story might be that instead of fishing them out of the scrap and bump -n- dent barrel and giving them to schools, they're dumping out the surplus brand new theoretically usable spare parts instead.

Are there any schools without tiles? I think every school in our district had at least one shuttle tile since the 80s. You can do some pretty cool demos of insulation, picking them up by the corners while red hot, etc. Aerogels work even better but they're much more fragile.

Re:A dupe from 1984? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387518)

I remember this as well from the 80s. My science teacher had a piece of tile from the space shuttle that we did a blow torch experiment with. I wasn't brave enough to touch it afterwards, but apparently the tiles stay cool enough to touch after getting the blow torch treatment. And, they're remarkably light almost like styrofoam! I'd love to get my hands on one just for fun.

Processed Astronaut Food? (0)

Guidii (686867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386634)

FTS: "NASA is offering processed space shuttle tiles and astronaut food to eligible schools and universities..."

It seems to me that ordering processed astronaut food is a really crappy idea...

I'll pass on this one... (since the astronauts already did....)

--

Check out DiceCAM [dicecam.ca] ... bringing real dice to your computer.

Paying for shuttle tiles ? (4, Funny)

Zoxed (676559) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386690)

Maybe I am getting old, but I can remember when they just fell out of the sky, for free :-)

Re:Paying for shuttle tiles ? (1)

Lookin4Trouble (1112649) | more than 2 years ago | (#37386896)

If I had mod points and didnt already comment on this story, I don't know whether this would qualify for 'funny' or 'troll'. Well played =)

Re:Paying for shuttle tiles ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37389322)

Oooooh....Too soon.

Labels (2)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 2 years ago | (#37387234)

Knowing the dehydrated food I have tried, I hope they clearly label the two. Don't want the kids gnawing on the tiles.

Eureka (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37387764)

I just had a brilliant idea.

It is well known that spacefood is easy to conserve and tastes like crap. So why don't we make better use of those qualities? There's quite a few places in the world with lack of food, and usually those recieve aid in the form of grain and stuff. The problem is they might become dependant on those supplies and neglect to grow their own crops.

Why don't we send spacefood to these famine stricken places? The fact that it tastes like crap will give them incentive to produce their own food, and no one will starve in the meantime. Spacefood shouldn't be so expensive if it's mass produced right? It might even be cheaper if you consider that you no longer need to send regular food aid as they'll soon solve the problem themselves.

The alternative our current aid programmes. We know how those work out. Another alternative is to just let them starve, which might solve a few other problems, but is morally inconvenient.

Wow. I'm waaaayyy offtopic today.

Safety? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388350)

Hopefully NASA sends a few hardhat to each school/university that receives a heat tile to protect onlookers from debris...those tiles have a great reputation.

Just sell me some tiles . . . (1)

blackanvil (1147329) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388390)

As a blacksmith, I just with they'd sell the tiles. I could make a gas forge that would Rock with those!

I got lucky... (1)

Macman408 (1308925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37388468)

When I was young, I visited my sister, who trains astronauts at NASA, and an astronaut gave me some of their food - a packet of cocoa, creamed spinach, and a brownie. The cocoa is pretty normal - powder in a silver bag. The spinach looks absolutely disgusting, even more so than spinach usually does, from the plastic crinkled around its odd texture when it was vacuum sealed. And the brownie is one of the rare foods that wasn't freeze dried; just sealed.

It was pretty cool getting the insider's tour; we'd see the official tours go by, two floors up in a glass-sided hallway. But we'd be down on the floor, looking at everything close-up. I even got to try one of their simulators briefly (I think playing with the fake robotic arm), and sat in the back seat while a couple astronauts trained in a different simulator.

MREs Baybee (1)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37389514)

Had a few myself whilst in Iraq. Pretty good eats.

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