Astronauts bake first 'space cookie'; it just takes two hours to do so
It might take over two hours to bake cookies in space, but hey, even astronauts need their comfort food.
That's the eventual goal of DoubleTree by Hilton, which sent a prototype oven built by space company NanoRacks last November to the International Space Station to bake the first food — specifically, the famous DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies — in space.
The eventual goal is to make spaceflight more enjoyable and comfortable, especially as astronauts spend longer amounts of time in space.
"As longer-duration spaceflight becomes more real and more common, you want to think about how to make astronauts more comfortable, and what you can add to make it feel more like Earth and more like home," Jordana Fichtenbaum, co-founder of Zero G Kitchen, which paid NanoRacks to develop the prototype oven, told The Atlantic last August.
In that same article, retired NASA scientist Charles Bourland explained how many astronauts he worked with enjoyed cooking and missed doing it when they were in space.
That all changed this past November, though.
For the first time, astronauts onboard the space station were able to bake food in a microgravity environment, and better yet, they were able to take a delicious whiff of that fresh-baked cookie scent.
Though they couldn't eat the cookies they baked — after all, this is a science experiment — they were able to bake several cookies at different times and temperatures to test which delivered the best result.
"I can smell it and I do observe some chocolate melting," European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano told mission control while he was baking the cookies in space. "It certainly doesn't look like cookie dough anymore."
The only problem was the amount of time it took to get that "ideal" cookie. On Earth, it takes 12 minutes at 330 degrees Fahrenheit to bake the DoubleTree chocolate chip cookies. But on space, it took a whole lot longer.
Baking a total of five cookies, one at a time, these were their findings:
• The first cookie baked for 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and was still underbaked.
• The second cookie, also baked at 300 degrees Fahrenheit but for 75 minutes, released a fresh-baked cookie scent.
• The third cookie delivered the same results as the second cookie, baked at the same temperature but was only in the oven for 60 minutes.
• The fourth cookie was baked for 120 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit and was left to cool outside the oven for 25 minutes.
• The fifth cookie was baked for 130 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit and left to cool outside the oven for 10 minutes.
Astronauts concluded the fourth and fifth cookie were the most successful, meaning if an astronaut wants one of DoubleTree's delicacies, they're just going to have to wait a little over two hours to get one. And that's only one cookie at a time, too.
Scientist don't know why the cookies took so long to cook in space, yet.
Now back here on Earth, the DoubleTree space chocolate chip cookies will undergo additional testing by food science professionals to determine the final results of the experiment, a DoubleTree by Hilton representative told FLORIDA TODAY.
Scientists want to make sure the cookie was, in fact, edible to consume, which DoubleTree believes it most likely was after they were baked on the space station.
As for what the future holds of baking more cookies in space, that remains unclear.
"Right now, the focus is continuing this program's success," according to DoubleTree. "From there, the brand will see what the future holds in terms of a longer-term efforts/partnerships."
Antonia Jaramillo is a space reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Jaramillo at 321-242-3668 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @AntoniaJ_11.
This story originally published to floridatoday.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the new Gannett Media network.