Food in Space: The latest DIY trend

Thanks to GoPro cameras, GPS tracking, and the Internet providing the proof of such engineering antics, it’s never been easier to have your junk food reach for the stars.

Earlier this month, two Swedish brothers sent a doughnut into space. (Well, almost. They were about 42 miles shy of space’s official edge at 100 km, or roughly 62 miles high.) Still, they got coolness points for showing the curvature of the Earth, and joined a burgeoning trend of folks hoisting food into the upper reaches of the atmosphere.


Also unveiled this month: The world’s first space ale, Ground Control, made from yeast that journeyed 77 miles above the Earth. Last October, the Ninkasi Brewing Company launched some brewer’s yeast into space from New Mexico’s Spaceport America that has since been used to create an “Imperial Stout that boldly combines local and out of this world ingredients.” It’s now being distributed in parts of the U.S.—a particularly intoxicating victory after the company’s first ill-fated attempt:

And the year before that, the music group Anamanaguchi launched a pizza slice for a music video for its song, Endless Fantasy.

As testament to human ingenuity and folly, increasing numbers of space enthusiasts, engineering students, and companies have been sending food aloft for both novelty and promotional purposes. Sure, there have been objects—Hello Kitty, Lego, and iPads—and who could forget Toshiba’s space chair?

But nothing quite satisfies like an In-and-Out-of-this-World Burger. Take Chosen Bun, which sent the first burger and fries 21 miles high to publicize its London burger delivery service.

Not to mention the flight of Natural Light beer in 2011…


… and the 2012 test of how the Coors Light “Super Cold” label held up at -75ºF and 18 miles high.

Until someone gets a Happy Meal into orbit, satellite manfacturers and the ISS crew can probably breath easy about a Gravity-esque death by all-beef patty. But all you badass hobbyists must defer to the true space food pioneer—astronaut John Young, who smuggled a contraband corned beef sandwich aboard the first crewed Gemini flight in 1965. Respect.

Gemini astronauts Gus Grissom and space deli smuggler John Young in a spacecraft simulator at the McDonnell plant in St. Louis. Their first crewed mission was considered a success despite a few thruster issues and the sudden appearance of a contraband corned beef sandwich.Photo: NASA/MSFC archives

About the author

Susan Karlin is an award-winning journalist in Los Angeles, covering the nexus of science, technology, and arts, with a fondness for sci-fi and comics. She's a regular contributor to Fast Company, NPR, and IEEE Spectrum, and has written for Newsweek, Forbes, Wired, Scientific American, Discover, NY and London Times, and BBC Radio.