Remember the first time you tasted freeze-dried astronaut ice cream from the science museum gift shop, wondering… Where does space food come from? Why does it taste so funny? What is it like to eat while drifting through the cosmos?

NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory (SFSL) is responsible for making sure that astronauts can munch on a variety of “high-quality food products that are appetizing, nutritious, and safe and easy to prepare and eat.” In the weightlessness of outerspace, meeting all that criteria can be pretty tricky. Not only does the SFSL need to concoct healthy food that can be preserved over the course of long voyages through the interstellar void (which takes a good deal of freeze-drying and chemical processing), but the food also needs to be tasty. The problem is, in zero gravity, senses like taste and smell become virtually defunct, making food seem bland. The solution? To make everything really, really spicy and flavorful. Lots of freeze-dried hot sauce. And to hire celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray, Emeril Lagasse, and Wolfgang Puck to form the ultimate space cuisine task force. Freeze-dried Pesto Presto Italian Flag Chicken, anyone?

How astronauts pull off their post-feasting trips to the bathroom in zero gravity is yet another mind-boggling matter. Lets just say there are lots of vacuum funnels and rollercoaster safety bars involved. And girls can pee standing up!

(Photos: The Fox is Black via Nerdcore)