Space taste: Lab reveals how it created first halal menu for UAE astronaut
The food for astronaut Hazza Al Mansoori was created by the Space Food Laboratory JSC in Russia.
Three traditional UAE dishes were among the food developed: Balaleet (vermicelli with egg omelette), saloona (lamb), and madhrooba (chicken).
The balaleet and saloona will be in canned form, with the madruba stored in tubes.
The company collaborated with Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos), and the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
The food was developed at the Biryulevo Experimental Plant, Russia.
As the products are classified as canned goods, they undergo special thermal treatment to ensure food safety.
The canned foods contain food in a solid or dried form, before water is added and heated in bespoke equipment for several minutes.
Meanwhile, the maluba will be ready-to-eat as soon as the package is opened.
“Due to the unique packaging, the products can be stored from 12 to 24 months,” said the lab, but it refused to be drawn on the details of the processing technologies or the halal accreditations process.
It did add, however: “The products are made only with natural ingredients. No artificial thickening agents, stabilizers, preservatives, GMOs or harmful chemical additives are used.”
It also takes account of the specific nutritional factors that occur in non-gravity conditions. For instance, calcium is washed out of the bones in space and therefore needs to be replaced.
According to Al Mansoori: “The astronaut’s meals are prepared according to specific requirements to provide a balanced nutrition while ensuring that they are easy to carry, store, and use in a non-gravitational environment. These foods are processed at high temperatures to be stored for long periods.”
Asked how their work may potentially impact mainstream F&B firms, the lab said: “It is hard to tell how F&B market will further develop, but right now we see a strong tendency for healthy and balanced food.”
“Our products are classified as balanced food. All recipes developed for astronauts and their diet have to be nutritious and balanced.”
The lab is developing new products to expand its product line, especially in reducing the weight of the product with minimal losses of trace elements and vitamins.
Al Mansoori is set to be the first Emirati to travel to the UAE, with Sultan Al Neyadi as a backup. He will fly on September 25 2019 for an eight-day stay at the International Space Station.