People have used shared meals and food preparation as an opportunity to gather for thousands and thousands of years. Outdoor firepits, kitchens, and restaurants are all common places for people to meet and exchange stories over a meal. The dining module in the International Space Station plays a similar role for astronauts who often meet for shared meals multiple times a day and sometimes even take turns playing “host” on special occasions. Even though the flat surface of a dining table might not make perfect sense in zero gravity (everything floats!), its main purpose is as a place to meet.
Which objects from your kitchen would you want to bring to space with you, and how would you redesign them for zero gravity? For example, in space, drinks are often served out of foil pouches because liquid does sit in cups in zero-gravity. A team of engineers and designers made a special space cup that is able to hold liquid! One of the biggest challenges is mixing things together or transferring the contents of one package into another. Food is eaten directly out of the plastic packaging with scissors and a spoon as the main utensils. The physiology of eating also changes and astronauts learn to take smaller bites due to the risk of crumbs floating away. Apart from all the challenges, there are also many opportunities to re-imagine and re-design everyday objects for zero gravity! A future space chef or designer could use zero-gravity environments as sources of inspiration to make new dinner plates out of food or create floating liquid spheres. The options are endless!
Mission: For this mission, you are all product designers for zero-gravity kitchenware! Kitchenware you design can be anything from cutlery to plates and cups to tools that you use to prepare your food: think about the tools you or your family members use most in meal preparation! You are tasked with:
 Choosing a kitchen item that you would like to adapt for a space environment.
 Analyzing that kitchen item to understand its Earth form and function.
 Re-designing the kitchen item for a zero-gravity environment, remembering the above considerations. Get creative with how you bring your design to life! Draw it! Prototype it! Build it (using whatever materials you have on-hand at home)! Test it out with your family! Make packaging for it and give it a name! Think of how you would market or sell this product: write a script for a commercial for advertising your newly designed kitchenware.
Don’t forget that, while space has its technical and environmental challenges, there are also so many things we can do in space that we cannot do here on Earth. You could imagine a floating meal, or cutlery designed to catch food in zero-g!
Once you complete your design process, upload your zero-g kitchenware design to the “Designing for the Zero-G Kitchen of the Future” forum on the Full STEAM Ahead website! We look forward to seeing all of your creations!
Zero G Kitchen Space Oven - overview of a new space-ready oven design that recently baked cookies in space
How to Drink Coffee in Space – ISSpresso & Zero-G Coffee Cup - video with a custom zero gravity coffee cup and espresso machine