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Baking Cookies in Space Takes Surprisingly Long Time

First space food baked from raw ingredients took 2 hours
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 24, 2020 1:45 PM CST
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US astronaut Christina Koch and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano pose for a photo with a cookie baked on the International Space Station.   (NASA via AP, File)

(Newser) – The results are finally in for the first chocolate chip cookie bake-off in space. While looking more or less normal, the best cookies required two hours of baking time last month up at the International Space Station, per the AP. And how do they taste? No one knows. Still sealed in individual baking pouches and packed in their spaceflight container, the cookies remain frozen in a Houston-area lab after splashing down two weeks ago in a SpaceX capsule. They were the first food baked in space from raw ingredients. The makers of the oven expected a difference in baking time in space compared to Earth, where cookies take under 20 minutes, but not that big. "There's still a lot to look into to figure out really what's driving that difference, but definitely a cool result," Mary Murphy, a manager for Texas-based Nanoracks, said this week.

Located near NASA's Johnson Space Center, Nanoracks designed and built the small electric test oven that was launched to ISS last November. Five frozen raw cookies were already there, and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano served as the baker. The first cookie—in the prototype Zero G Oven for 25 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit—ended up seriously under-baked. Parmitano more than doubled the baking time for the next two, and the results were still so-so. The fourth cookie stayed in the oven for two hours. "I do see some browning," Parmitano radioed. "It certainly doesn't look like cookie dough any more." He cranked the oven up to its maximum 325 degrees for the fifth cookie and baked it for 130 minutes, reporting more success. Tests will now determine whether the three returned cookies are safe to eat.

(Read more International Space Station stories.)

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