Lufthansa airlines is serving its business class passengers astronaut food. But if the idea of astronaut food has you thinking of recycled human waste, 3D-printed pizza, algae, and freeze-dried ice cream, you’re way off. Instead, the airline is serving its customers chicken ragout with mushroom, which is exactly what German European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and his crew will be eating aboard the International Space Station.
The culinary delight was developed by the LSG Group, Lufthansa’s catering and hospitality arm, and supplied to the ISS as so-called bonus food for Gerst, who started the “Horizons” mission on June 6. Bonus food refers to specific food items chosen by crew members that are separate from the standard space menu. It’s a little way to keep the astronauts happy during their space sojourn—typically saved for special occasions or served for team spirit-building. And what team’s spirit wouldn’t be roused by chicken ragout?
The LSG Group Culinary Excellence Team worked in conjunction with the ESA to provide the bonus dishes for the Horizons mission. While they are used to making food that tastes good at high altitudes, making food to be eaten in zero gravity was new. Eventually, they developed six special low-sodium meals that could maintain a shelf life of two years, as per space orders. The meals were all specifically requested by Gerst, including typical dishes from his home region, Swabia, such as Maultaschen (basically a German take on ravioli–don’t @ me) and the noodles known as Spätzle, as well as the aforementioned chicken ragout with mushrooms.
The new-fangled astronaut food is only available on long-haul flights from Germany in July and August. After that, you’ll have to eat chicken ragout with mushrooms on the ground like everyone else, save for Gerst.
If you want to learn more about what astronauts eat, check out the episode of NASA’s Houston We Have A Podcast on the subject of space food—and realize you’ve been feasting on lies about Tang all these years.