Mark Watney’s tea may have been nothing but spent rocket fuel, but on the ISS, astronauts are about to get a lesson in good ol’ fashioned English tea time. That’s thanks to British celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal, who’s working hard to figure out how to bring several of his country’s staples into zero-gee.
Earlier this year, Blumenthal was tasked with creating seven space-grade dishes that would remind British astronaut Tim Peake of home during his six-month stint in on the ISS. The menu, which is still in the works, will include “bacon sarnie” and Christmas pudding, as well as tea that doesn’t taste like fermented tar. (The trick, The Guardian reports, is a high-tech system that jettisons the tea bag from its plastic brewing pouch into a separate trash receptacle, so that the water doesn’t over steep.)
The secret to these British classics and more will be revealed next year in a 90-minute documentary, commissioned by production company Thoroughly Modern Media.
Space food has a rep for being pretty awful, but we’ve seen a lot of efforts to class it up over the past few years, from home-grown salad greens to zero-gee espresso machines. (Sadly, wine is still on the list of prohibited items, along with sloths and firecrackers). As Blumenthal told The Guardian, getting to be part of the space food revolution is the opportunity of a lifetime:
“When Tim set me my mission, I felt a surge of pride to be involved in such a historic moment for both astronomy and gastronomy. Imagine telling a young boy that when he grows up he will create food for astronauts to eat in space — it’s a dream I couldn’t even envisage, let alone it coming true!
“Working with the team at the UK Space Agency, ESA and Nasa has been a phenomenal experience. Tim and I have also worked closely together, creating dishes that will remind him of home even though he’ll be 400km away in space. The very least I could do was make sure he had a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie.”
Blumenthal’s Space Food documentary will air on the British station Channel 4 next autumn.