Spaceflight Now STS-100

Station crew gets cosmic food deliveries

Posted: May 23, 2001

Yuri Usachev eats Pizza Hut pizza aboard the space station. Photo: Pizza Hut
In what can be described as either the further commercialization of space or the heights people will go to satisfy a craving, the crew of the International Space Station have recently received a pair of unusual food deliveries.

The crew of the last month's Soyuz taxi mission to the station brought with them the first pizza to be delivered and eaten in space, the American restaurant chain Pizza Hut said Tuesday.

"Having recorded numerous 'firsts' on Earth, we also wanted to make history by becoming the first company in the world to deliver pizza to space," said Randy Gier, chief marketing officer of Pizza Hut.

The pizza, 15 cm (6 in.) in diameter, resembled a typical terrestrial pizza, including a standard crust, sauce, and cheese. In a departure from Pizza Hut's normal selection of ingredients, the pizza was topped with salami rather than pepperoni, which did not withstand the 60-day testing period imposed by Russian officials. The pizza was delivered to the station in a vacuum-sealed package and cooked in an oven there.

The cosmic pizza delivery is not the first promotion the company has done with the Russian space program. A Pizza Hut logo was emblazoned on the side of the Proton rocket that launched the Zvezda service module to the station last July as part of an effort to publicize the company's redesigned logo.

Pizza Hut gave no indication if they would include pizzas on future flights, but hinted they might. "As a leader in the pizza delivery business, we're determined to give customers what they want, when they want it and where they want it, even if they are in space," said Gier. "If space tourism is going to be a reality, Pizza Hut pizza will make the trip even better."

Not to be outdone, San Diego-based arranged to have a small package of its Final Frontier Beef Jerky delivered to the station Tuesday night as part of the payload of a Progress resupply spacecraft, the second time the company's product has flown in space.

A small package of jerky, weighing 55-85 grams (2-3 oz.), or about 4-6 pieces, was included in the personal allotment of supplies for each member of the Expedition Two crew. Company spokesman Gregory Nemitz said the jerky was specifically requested by a member of the crew, but declined to name that person as a matter of privacy. Nemitz said he had hoped to fly more, but was limited by the strict mass limitations of the Progress payload.

The company had tried to get an even smaller sample -- 28 grams (1 oz.) -- delivered to the station last month on the STS-100 shuttle mission, and even offered to pay NASA $1,000 in "postage" to carry it. However, Dan Tam, the assistant to the NASA Administrator for commercialization efforts, declined the offer.

The Progress flight is the second time the company has flown its jerky in space. In 1997 a larger package of jerky, 1.1 kg (40 oz.), was carried to the Mir station as part of the payload of the STS-79 shuttle mission that docked with the station.

Nemitz said that he is not counting on being able to purchase cargo space on future shuttle missions, but thinks there may be other ways to get his company's product into orbit. "I regularly mail fresh samples to the ISS/Shuttle food manager so there is always some on hand for the next shuttle crew to sample for inclusion on their flights," he said. "There is always a chance that Final Frontier Jerky will fly again, at no launch cost to me."