Interplanetary Cookbook

Collective Dining Experience in Space

Completion - 2020 Spring
Collaborators - Miranda Luong, Ian Shei, Supawat Vitoorapakorn

Print design
Recipe design

︎︎︎final submission pdf


In space, most foods taste one-dimensional since they are heavily processed before the flight. How can we design new and unforeseen foodways and gastronomic experiences that extend beyond basic sustenance for dining in space?

In response to MIT Media Lab’s open call for Interplanetary Cookbook, I led a team of four to combine our cultural backgrounds and design expertise to innovate how we can in space.

Context ︎
On the space station, every meal consists of a personal collection of disposable tin cans and plastic pouches. These strategically-prepared meals aren't design with sharing in mind.

What’s more, they also lack taste and texture: with most foods heavily processed before the flight so they can later be rehydrated or thermostabilized, even the most extravagant foods can still taste one-dimensional, especially if eaten out of a vacuum-sealed pouch.

Astraunauts eating together, taking food out of pouches

Inspirations ︎
Astraunauts’ video of making a tortilla got us initially interested in the food prep process in space. Tortilla is an amazing material that allows self-assembling and customization in their meals.
Therefore, we started to examine foods from different cultures which can not only introduce dynamic flavors but also getting astraunauts to be part of the food-making process.
metrics of success ︎
While we are excited about the diverse food choice, we have to filter our choice to meet the specific requirements for sapce travel. Therefore, we set up 3 levels of goals to satisfy:

We designed a full experience to spark greater engagement from astronauts towards their foods as well as each other during mealtime.
Recipe ︎

To achieve both dynamic flavors and logevity, we found out that a few  Asian dishes could be great points of reference for final recipe design:

  • Soup Dumpling - the gelatin broth inserted inside the dough pocket is the key to the explosion of flavor, and it can be freeze-dried into powder for long storage;
  • Spring Roll - compared to dumpling wrappers, the spring roll wrappers allows much longer storage time and leaves no powders;
  • Dumpling - the diversity of dumpling stuffing from meat to vegeterian allows high degree of customization of flavors;

Combing the advantages of the three different types of food, we propose an innovative space dumpling recipe:

Device Design ︎
As shown in the diagram below, the foldable table design refers to the layout of hotpot desk to celebrate the food sharing moment. While the pot in the middle is accessible to everyone standing around the table, it also provides food pockets that allows cooked/uncooked food storage instead of using velcro.

As shown in the diagram, the cooking mechanism intends to combat microgravity to achieve uniform cooking.