The purpose of this paper is to introduce creative ideas for space feeding by comparing airline and aerospace feeding systems. Use of the metric system to divide the astronaut's day, primarily in relation to his eating schedule, is discussed.
Universities (and I suggest NASA is similar to a university) as organizations tend to resist change. Despite involvement with dynamic youth, the aim of a university is to add small increments of knowledge to existing or old knowledge. Similarly, you and I have so many deeply ingrained concepts and prejudices about our food that in order to look at a new feeding system we may need to be jolted. The same "shock" may be needed in order to think creatively of space food. We speak of space food -but isn't it conventional food eaten in space ?
An airplane pilot, before he takes off, checks the weather, checks the airplane, and checks the fuel, but have you ever seen the pilot go aft to ask the stewardess if the coffee is on board ? No. He takes it for granted, as it is not part of safety. But for the relaxation of the passengers and for their mental calm, eating plays an important role.
The airlines realize that you and I buy our tickets partly because of the service that they provide. The passengers may be a captive audience on board, but at the ticket counter they are discriminating purchasers. If you are going to buy one airline's ticket in preference to another airline's ticket, your choice is largely based on the impression that you have from the service provided. You want a feeling of security when you are on board, so the atmosphere the airline wants to create is associated with the security of mother's or grandmother's kitchen. The home cooking concept is an illustration of the kind of confidence you transfer to the pilot and to the airline stewardess. You recognize the food that is served attractively by pretty airline stewardesses, and this helps to enforce your feeling of security.
In classifications of food service, eight groups of feeding establishments are well recognizable:
 Although the airline feeding system frequently has been listed under the category of transportation, to me the proper listing is with hotels and fancy restaurants (category l) or clubs, resorts, etc. (category 3). The care that is given to menu selection and preparation, holding, transporting, and serving of food is similar to that given to gourmet dining. This same care has been devoted to our space food, even though the emphasis in our space program has been on the engineering phases.
Another similarity in the airline and aerospace feeding systems is in the major factors considered in the selection of a menu. Both systems require careful attention to weight, volume, preparation, convenience, and low degree of flatulence of the food. Although the airlines are serving only one or two meals per flight and aerospace food may be eaten for weeks, variety also is a factor for both systems. For example, if a passenger boards his next flight even a month later and receives a steak or lobster menu the same as that on the previous flight, he reacts to the monotony just as the astronaut reacts to a monotonous menu.
A third similarity is in the role of food to the physical and emotional state of the person. Food becomes important to the pilot on long flights so that he will retain acuity. How often does one shoelace break when you are in a rush ? Both shoelaces, except perhaps that one is one thread weaker than the other, are the same, but you have put more stress on the broken one. Similarly, a man in an airplane or a spacecraft cannot perform best if he is under tension. Food can be used to relieve tensions, especially those of a passenger doing nothing, for whom tension may build up. When you go to a restaurant with only a few minutes for your meal and the waitress doesn't come immediately to take your order, and, after she does take it, does not serve your meal for several minutes, you are under so much tension that you gulp the food and do not appreciate the taste. But suppose you went into the same restaurant, on the same time schedule, under the same necessity to be served quickly, and the waitress did just one thing: brought a loaf of bread with a knife and said, "Cut a piece of bread, your meal is coming, and here is your salad. " How much easier it now is to wait for the remainder of your meal' How less tense you are' How much better the food tastes'
The astronauts in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo flights were very busy performing tasks. As flights become longer, an astronaut will at times be an idle passenger prone to tension. Participation in food service can contribute to relieving this tension. The astronaut has been like the airplane pilot, concerned about the engineering, yet not realizing that his ability to perform tasks may depend upon his blood sugar and his state of relaxation. When you tie your shoelace, if you are under tension, your shoelace breaks.
By film we have watched while an astronaut turned a spoon upside down and the food didn't drop. Would this have been just as good an experience if the astronaut had turned himself upside down ? Because we rely on our Earth conventions and expect to use a spoon in a conventional manner to put food in our mouth, we must be jolted to think about an astronaut's turning a sommersault to eat the food instead of eating it by turning a spoon over. The reason the astronaut turned the spoon over to make his demonstration was his Earth orientation, not the space orientation. Even an astronaut in space carries along these Earth prejudices. We must break through our Earth prejudices if we plan to develop improved space feeding systems. We must begin fairly soon, because when there are three astronauts and the pilot and the copilot are busy the third man becomes a passenger with possibilities of boredom and tension.
 Another problem is our Earth bound time system; perhaps we should consider adopting a metric time system. How many breakfasts should an astronaut eat? Should he have a breakfast every time he sees the sunrise as he circles the Earth ? How many luncheons should an astronaut have on the way to the Moon when he is in sunshine all the time ? Should he have breakfasts, noonday meals, and dinners ? What schedule is followed in Alaska, with its almost 24 hours of sunshine ? To keep the conventionalism of the U. S., you draw your curtains. Why keep these stateside concepts in our astroaquarium ? Why not adopt the metric system of time and also adopt some of the pleasures of a siesta ? A proper day for an astronaut might be 4 hours of work and 5 or 6 hours of rest. He could enjoy relaxation, work, and sleep in a metric system. Let us divide the day into 10 equal parts and divide those 10 equal parts into 10 to make 100. It is time we started challenging ourselves to do this. There is still a reason to keep a day and a year, but there is no reason to keep seconds, minutes, and hours. If a day is divided into 10 periods of time, nutritional snacking may be a very valid feeding schedule. Research with animals indicates that they are healthier when they eat frequent snacks than when they eat three meals a day.
Further, let us consider the S. Q. of the food - a concept similar to our I. Q. The abbreviation S. Q. denotes a partly coined term, "satisficing quotient, " which denotes the degree to which the foods are satisfactory in terms of nutrition and are satisfying to the eater. Perhaps this concept will influence you to think of space feeding in terms of the restaurant industry, in which we tend to discuss the recreational value of food. The ability to relax or relieve tension is an important concept when a husband and wife dine in a restaurant. While she is taken away from the boredom of washing dishes, he is relieved of the tension resulting from the office. Every good restaurant man knows that you do not come to a restaurant to buy only food. Food bought in a grocery store and cooked at home is a lot cheaper than is food bought in a restaurant. One goes to a restaurant because he wants to relax, he wants to be entertained, and he desires an attractive atmosphere. Relaxation, entertainment, and charm are the "rec" of the word recreation.
If you have ever taken children to a restaurant after they have been confined in a station wagon for hours, you appreciate the entertainment value of a children's menu. The decor is the charm. When you take your wife to eat in a restaurant you go to a place that has a bit of charm. The atmosphere and aesthetic value are important concepts for space food and in the space age we can have concepts of charm. The charm can be accomplished not just by candlelight; it can be accomplished by the food. A dry sandwich is not charming, but there is something charming about a snack of a well-prepared chicken leg. The taste of a chicken leg from the refrigerator with a can of beer is scrumptious.
Entertainment need not be a miniskirted stewardess, although that is excellent entertainment. It can be that participation that you and I enjoy when we barbecue. In fact, give a husband the challenge and he will continue barbecuing even though it starts to rain; he will even drive the car out of the garage to continue barbecuing. Gathering around the barbecue pit is entertaining. The astronaut also needs "rec" entertainment in his feeding system. We can give the astronauts the entertainment of spreading items on bread. I understand that in the next Apollo there will be cheese to be spread on crackers. Let us give the astronaut this opportunity to participate. Snacks are popular because reaching in the refrigerator and making your own selection is participation.
 With the metric system, we will not be bound to breakfast every time the sun rises, or to lunch because it is midday. With the metric system, the challenge of new ideas can be carried into the food. Our job as scientists is to be concerned with nutrition, but this is not the astronaut's job. The participation, the relaxation, and the entertainment lead to the challenge of nutritious snacks. All of us, including myself, must accept the challenge to think of space food instead of conventional Earth food in space. As we start thinking of space food, we realize that it is no longer the three meals that we are so accustomed to on Earth. When we leave this conference perhaps we can do more than just lightly talk about the metric system. Perhaps we can use it to think of space food. I am not advocating champagne flights, but to me food without beverage or food without some gourmet aspect of participation will not produce a good feeding system for aerospace travel.
The hospitality that you and I cultivate in our homes is the thing I am asking you to think about in terms of our space feeding system. It is my personal belief that risks of aborting missions increase if we ignore food. Insurance companies tell us that we cause accidents when we are under tension. If we are going to prevent accidents, we must work as a team and consider food an important part of the whole system.