Apollo 10 space-a-versary: Space Meal, 1969

To commemorate the May 18, 1969 launch of Apollo 10, our friends at the Smithsonian are celebrating the launch by sharing this photo of a meal package from the Apollo 10 mission:

The Apollo 10 spacecraft launched from Cape Kennedy at 12:49 p.m. EST with commander Thomas Stafford, command module pilot John Young and lunar module pilot Gene Cernan. This liftoff marked the fourth Apollo launch in seven months. Its purpose was to serve as a complete dry run for the Apollo 11 mission, the first mission to land humans on the Moon.

Each crew member was supplied with three meals per day, which provided approximately 2,800 calories. This photo shows John Young’s Meal B lunch for mission Day 9. The mission only lasted eight days—he did not eat this food, but astronauts were provided extra supplies if they had to stay in space longer. It contains cocoa, salmon salad, sugar cookie cubes, grape punch and hand wipes. Meals were sorted by day and designated for each astronaut with a corresponding piece of Velcro—white for mission commander, blue for command module pilot and red for lunar module pilot.


  1. Is the color chart supposed to ensure that the meal looks as good in the picture as it does in real life?

    1. I’m not sure, but lots of old school pro photography test/archival shots used color charts. Probably to help with developing the print by hand so you had a baseline consistency from roll to roll of film.  I’ve seen them in prints of movie stars and fashion models.  Sometimes prints would color shift over time and age.  I’m sure you’ve seen some old photos that have shifted towards red or blue.

  2. I think that “space food” like this gave a big boost to the old sci-fi trope of food-in-pill-form. I would gladly have eaten this sort of stuff for a week if I’d gotten a moon trip out of it, although as I’ve gotten older I’ve certainly come to appreciate the benefits of roughage, if you catch my drift.

  3. You used to be able to get this stuff out of vending machines in Huntsville. Tasted like freeze dried crap. I’d rather carry a ton of jerky and deal with the hypertension and constipation later.

    Which brings up another point. If you knew how astronaut bathrooms worked, you’d view constipation as a feature, not a bug. Let’s put it this way. The whole spacesuit was made by Playtex with the exception of one component, which was made by Kimberly-Clark.

  4. My mom worked for United Technology as secretary to the corporate counsel; they left together with some other staff to form Vivonex, in Mountain View, CA. to produce chemically defined diet, for astronauts and other rara avis. 

    The idea was, astronauts needed a low-residue [poop] regimen which would supply all the necessary nutrients.

    I remember there was a Dr. Winitz who was one of the chief chemists, who gave my mom a vial of some concoction which was supposed to heal first-degree burns. 

    I can testify, having gotten a severe sunburn, and having been anointed with Dr. Winitz’ Snake Oil, that it really did work.  I think he turned out to be some kind of flim-flam man, there was some scandal…

    Vivonex purchased their ingredients from Aji No Moto, I saw big cardboard drums of the stuff all around there. 

    Of course, there was no big demand for the stuff, and low residue has its own problems. 

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