Space—it’s a dangerous place. Everything can kill you, and that includes crumbs. Ever heard of the Corned Beef Sandwich Incident?
Indeed, crumby bread is why astronauts are forced to use tortillas for everything—including their sad, sad PB&Js. However, one German company aims to solve this problem, and give astronauts the opportunity to actually bake bread aboard the ISS in the process.
The design of the oven could help. Matthias Boehme at OHB System AG, a Bremen-based company that develops equipment for use in space, is currently trying to adapt a convection oven to the constraints of the ISS. Electricity is limited so the oven must work on just 250 watts – a tenth of the power used by a standard oven on Earth. And exterior surfaces cannot exceed 45 °C. “The solution is an oven with a small volume that retains heat well,” says Boehme.
They are also experimenting with vacuum baking, which would lower the pressure inside a sealed oven and make it possible to bake at lower temperatures. This process might also have the added benefit of making bread more fluffy.
Bake in Space plans to launch its first bread baking experiments during the European Space Agency’s Horizon mission in April 2018.