You can now get your own taste of the "first cookie baked in space," months before the zero-g baking begins.
DoubleTree by Hilton, which is known for giving out warm cookies to its hotel guests at check-in, is celebrating the upcoming bake of its cookie dough on board the International Space Station by selling a limited edition "Cookies in Space" tin. The collectible container includes six of the same type of chocolate chip cookies that will be baked by the space station crew using a new oven designed to make long-duration spaceflight more hospitable.
"Our warm welcomes aren't exclusive to space stations and hotel stays. Order limited edition DoubleTree Cookies in Space cookie tins straight to your door," the Hilton hotel chain wrote on its Cookies In Space website.
The 5-inch-tall (13-centimeter) tins are decorated with a spacewalking astronaut holding a cookie while floating above Earth and a purple nebula backdrop. The lid reads, "Taking Hospitality Further" and "First Cookie Baked in Space."
The Cookies in Space tins are available now (for $15.50 each; shipping to U.S. addresses only). The crew aboard the space station will need to wait a few months more. The launch of the oven is slated for later this year.
"We are working towards the NG-12 mission scheduled for fall 2019," DoubleTree writes on its website, referring to Northrop Grumman's 12th Cygnus cargo mission to the space station, currently planned for an October launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Space Cookie Recipe
The Cookies in Space project is the result of a collaboration between DoubleTree, commercial space services provider NanoRacks and Zero G Kitchen, a company developing culinary appliances for use in microgravity.
"The partnership between these three companies is probably one of the most inspired partnerships in commercial space today," said Jordana Fichtenbaum, who with her husband, Ian, co-founded Zero G Kitchen. "What is more ideal for a first food item to be baked in our oven than the iconic chocolate chip cookie that greets people when they go to DoubleTree hotels and makes them feel welcome?"
The recipe for the dough to be baked to space is the same that is used on Earth. The difference is in the design of the oven.
"Baking in space is different because there is no gravity," said Ian Fichtenbaum. "On Earth, the air is churning around in the oven and that is convection. In space, that is not happening."
"Instead, we have to use conduction through the oven, conduction through the air to warm it up," he explained.
The Zero G Kitchen Space Oven is a cylindrical-shaped, insulated container that uses electric heating elements, similar to those found in a toaster oven, to warm its contents. The oven uses silicone pouches that hold the food in place and allow steam and hot air to escape, but prevent food crumbs from escaping. The Zero G Kitchen Space Oven also features an integrated cooling rack on its outside.
Though the first experiment is focused on baking, Zero G Kitchen has future plans for trays that would allow grilling, pan cook and griddle modes of cooking using the same oven aboard the space station.
"If we're going to go further away on long duration missions in the future, we're going to have to figure out ways to cook our own food," said Mike Massimino, a former NASA space shuttle astronaut and spokesperson for the DoubleTree Cookies in Space project. "We've never done this before, so we don't know exactly what is going to happen. There's going to be a lot of learning."
In addition to the collectible tin sales and on-orbit activities, DoubleTree by Hilton is also partnering with Scholastic to launch a student contest asking U.S. middle school students to submit their own ideas for making life in space more hospitable.
"When you get down to working together as astronauts, food is not just for nourishment. It is also a sense of community, sharing a meal, sharing food with your crewmates and I think it is a great way to explore international cooperation and feel welcome," said Massimino.
The "Opening Doors in Space" contest, beginning this fall, will challenge students to design an innovation for a hotel in outer space. Prizes will include a $1,000 cash award, an Apple iPad and for teachers, a complimentary five-night stay at any DoubleTree by Hilton location.
DoubleTree and Scholastic have also worked together on an educational lesson and activity sheet about hospitality in space for use in classrooms.
"Hilton has long been an industry innovator, and as we celebrate our 100th year, we're excited to send our hospitality into orbit," said Shawn McAteer, senior vice president and global brand head for DoubleTree by Hilton. "Hilton first envisioned a lunar hotel way back in 1958 and while we're not quite on the moon yet, this news brings that dream closer to reality."
Click through to collectSPACE to see DoubleTree by Hilton's "Cookies in Space" mission patch.
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