Blue Bell Creameries logo. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The Unique Connection Between Ice Cream And NASA
By Crystal Antonace
When the U.S. Congress created NASA in 1958, only certain foods were chosen for lengthy missions, and with no refrigerators, options were limited. The popular M&M candies have been a favorite treat among astronauts since 1981, but surely there are other snacks space travelers can enjoy.
Retro freeze-dried ice cream was created for NASA's Apollo 7 mission in 1968, appearing in the Apollo 7 Press Kit, but whether or not astronauts ate astronaut ice cream is unclear. NASA's space food systems lab manager Vickie Kloeris claims that astronaut ice cream only made it to space for one mission, yet one of the mission’s members has no memory of eating it.
Freeze-dried ice cream can crumble off, floating into the astronaut's eyes or sensitive electronic equipment, so it didn’t become a staple of space travel. Alternatively, National Air and Space Museum curator Jennifer Levasseur believes microgravity environments are the perfect place to enjoy real frozen ice cream, because liquid molecules stay bound together, unlike bread and freeze-dried confections.
Real ice cream debuted in space for the first time in 2006 on the shuttle Atlantis, where Blue Bell was stored in a specialized freezer. Ice cream's most recent voyage into space was in 2017, when the SpaceX Dragon resupply capsule transported 30 cups of Blue Bell and Snickers ice cream bars to ISS space station crew members.