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
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: