Designing Astronaut Meals for the ISS


This challenge is no longer active and has been completed. Submissions are no longer being accepted.

Be part of the NASA mission. Compete in a new series of challenges through our Innovation Gateway, a community science initiative. Everyday explorers – just like you – have the opportunity to provide useful solutions to further space exploration and our world.

In this challenge, design astronaut meals for the International Space Station.

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Space food and nutrition

Food is a very important piece of our lives. A nutritious diet promotes physical, mental, and emotional health. A well-balanced and delicious meal is not only important for us here on Earth, but also for astronauts in space. A complete food system promotes health and resilience enabling us to solve the problems that we face daily.

NASA’s Food Systems Engineering Facility

At the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Space Food Systems Laboratory, food scientists examine a variety of factors to develop space food. Nutrition plays a key role, but flavor, shelf life, and ease of cooking and consumption must all be evaluated. These components define a complete food system.

Before you begin, review the steps below to develop a nutritious meal.

Your Goal:

Level 1: Make a meal addressing the ISS food system.
Level 2: Develop a complete food system for one astronaut on the International Space Station for one week (seven days).


Level 1: Make one meal using food from your home that works within a complete ISS food system, take a picture, create a description of your meal, and include it in your submission.

Level 2: In addition to Level 1, write a complete International Space Station food system for an astronaut for seven days. A complete food system includes:

  • Conduct research on spaceflight requirements
  • Choose a current or retired astronaut to model your meal after
  • Define the daily caloric intake for your astronaut
  • Develop a meal plan with nutritional stability to meet spaceflight requirements (I.e. healthy and no crumbs)
  • Consider sensory acceptability and variety (I.e. it has to taste good)
  • Ensure it’s a balanced meal with food system constraints

Food System Constraints:

  • No refrigerator or freezers for food storage
  • All food must be processed and prepackaged
  • Each meal must have unique food options
  • Must have the appropriate caloric count for an astronaut of your choosing
  • Ability to be eaten in a microgravity environment

Helpful Hints:

  • Explore the resources provided below to find many answers to your questions about a complete food system and to guide your work
  • Work with family and friends to develop your meal and system
  • Submit your document(s) early by clicking here
  • Be creative

Challenge winners will be featured on our challenge webpage and on Space Center Houston social media pages.


Challenge Winners

Ages 5-8
Amber Meyer, 7

Ages 9-13
Logan Meyer, 9

Ages 14-17
Arshia Rezaei, 14

Ages 18+
Gerardo Zamora, 20, and Ingrid Piña, 20

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