The International Space Station is about to take delivery of a new, more efficient, oven – making it possible for astronauts to bake their very own cakes.
The Zero G Oven is expected to be delivered to the International Space Station (ISS) by Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus capsule, which is set to launch on Saturday.
The electric oven can reach much higher temperatures than the ISS’s current one.
This means it’s able to cook at up to 350º F (177ºC) so that space travellers will be able to enjoy a rather more varied menu – essential for longer missions.
The oven has been built with specialised insulation and venting mechanisms so it can operate safely in the controlled environment of the International Space Station.
The oven, which is expected to be installed in the station’s ‘Kibo’ Japanese Experiment Module, has passed stringent NASA safety reviews.
It can’t use convection – which depends on gravity – so it uses electric heating elements, which makes it a bit like a giant toaster.
The ISS crew have already a package of ready-formed frozen biscuits, which just need heating up in the new oven, which will be the first-ever cookies baked in space.
There’s even a cooling rack integrated into the outside of the oven so the ISS crew can enjoy the mouthwatering smell of warm biscuits throughout the space station.
It’s not just for fun.
Three of the cookies will be sent back to Earth after cooking for analysis.
With extended missions on the Moon and, in the future, Mars on NASA’s wish-list it’s important to understand what new challenges might be presented when cooking in microgravity.