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Flying Pizzas in Space! Astronauts Get Creative with Cosmic Pie Creations

Judging by a pizza slowly floating by a camera on the International Space Station, it looks like somebody prefers extra pepperoni on their weightless pie.

An awesome new NASA video shows the space station's six Expedition 53 crewmembers getting set for "movie night" by (what else) making out-of-this-world pizzas! It looks like making the food was extra-fun because they got to play with it in between bites. [The Evolution of Space Food in Photos]

Because everything in microgravity floats, the astronauts were careful to tether things down while slapping ingredients onto their pizza. To make the pizza, three to four astronauts gathered at a table where food items were strapped down. They used ingredients that would stick to the pizza crust, which itself needs to be fairly crumb-free so as not to send food bits showering into the electronics. 

Astronauts and cosmonauts show off their pizza creations on the International Space Station in this still from a video by the station's Expedition 53 crew. They are (from left): NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei; Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryazanskiy and Alexander Misurkin; European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronauts Joe Acaba and Randy Bresnik. (Image credit: NASA)

Near the end of the video, which NASA released on YouTube Monday (Dec. 4), the crewmembers proudly show off their individual pizza creations and bounce examples back and forth in front of the camera. Then, they chow down. No need to worry about putting the pizza down in between bites — it just floats there.

Although astronauts need to meet strict dietary requirements in space, today's crews are much luckier than those of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo eras back in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, much of the food was consumed by tube. They didn't even have a proper toilet in the tiny spacecraft — just hoses and baggies. (The Expedition 53 crew has two toilets to use on the International Space Station.)

In 2013, NASA funded a prototype 3D printer to create food on long-duration space missions — and that food included pizza. The system was expected to build the pizza in layers, from printing the dough, to adding the tomato "sauce" (powder and oil) to layering on protein to replace traditional toppings.

Funny enough, astronauts' taste preferences may change in space because bodily fluids stuff up their heads. This makes spicy food a favorite because it doesn't feel like you're eating the same dull thing all the time. 

Sriracha on that pizza, anyone?

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Elizabeth Howell
Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is pursuing a Ph.D. part-time in aerospace sciences (University of North Dakota) after completing an M.Sc. (space studies) at the same institution. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @HowellSpace.