Mike Massimino says he'd had enough of freeze-dried food.
When regular people are craving pizza, they’re usually within just a couple minutes of a slice. It is blessedly easy for most of us to get our hands on that cheesy, greasy goodness. For astronauts, this is not the case, as Pizza Hut has yet to open up any storefronts on the Moon. And just because they are orbiting the International Space Station with epic views of our solar system, doesn’t mean they don’t crave this most pedestrian of foods. In fact, astronauts miss pizza desperately when they’re away from Earth—so much so that one actually ordered a pie on his way back to the surface.
After a screening of the upcoming National Geographic documentary on space travel, One Strange Rock, NASA astronaut Mike Massimino revealed that he got so tired of waiting for pizza after months spent in space, that he actually ordered a pizza from the space shuttle during his descent back to earth.
As Massimino points out, astronauts love pizza so much, they've even developed a delicacy that they fittingly call space pizza, but it's hardly a stand-in for the real thing. They use gift packages of space station-safe food to make the mini-pies—apparently a welcome break from the freeze-dried space food (which is lighter, meaning that shuttle can use less fuel to escape earth’s gravity) that astronauts usually have to eat.
In fact, astronaut Randy Bresnik praised space pizza as one of the best treats he got to eat while working on the ISS. “The best food we had was a treat we got sent up as a care package, which was a pizza making kit with the crust and sauce,” he said. “Because the texture and the taste was so different than the regular free-dried food we had, it was the best pizza I ever had.”
In 2017, Bresnik’s crew on the ISS actually filmed the space pizza-making process. They start with pre-packaged, pre-baked pizza crust and build the pizzas using ingredients that can stick to the bottled tomato sauce, like pepperoni and olives. The trick is to make sure that the pizza doesn’t float away as they spread on the sauce. They then cut the pizzas (which were stored in a suitcase, to again, keep them from floating away) into slices using scissors, and voila! Dinner is served.
If you’ve been starved for real food, space pizza will do, but I’m pretty sure nothing could ever beat that first bite of a real slice of hot and melty pizza Massimino got when he landed safely on solid ground.