Freeze-dried ice cream

Freeze-dried ice cream

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Freeze dried ice cream, is ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 that has been freeze dried.

A major type is astronaut ice cream or space ice cream, typically a slab of dehydrated ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 that is always ready to eat, with no need for refrigeration
Refrigeration
Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to move heat from one location to another. This work is traditionally done by mechanical work, but can also be done by magnetism, laser or other means...

. Compared to regular ice cream it can be kept at room temperature without melting, and is more brittle and rigid but still soft when bitten into. It was developed by Whirlpool Corporation under contract to NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 for the Apollo missions
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

.

Apollo 7
Apollo 7
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the American Apollo space program, and the first manned US space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew of what was to have been the first manned mission, AS-204 , during a launch pad test in 1967...

 in 1968 was the first NASA mission on which space ice cream flew in outer space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

. According to one NASA food scientist, although freeze-dried ice cream was developed on request, "it wasn't that popular." The top five requested foods so far are 1. Shrimp cocktail, 2. lemonade, 3. steak, 4. M&M's, and 5. brownies, of course they are eating the NASA food version of these products, and they are limited to a certain menu.

This original space ice cream was a specially made food developed by U.S. Army Natick Laboratories, consisting of "coconut fat, milk solids, and sugar was homogenized, frozen, then freeze-dried, ground and compressed into cubes under high pressure. The cubes were then coated with an edible gelatin coating to prevent crumbs". This was the ice cream flown on Apollo 7
Apollo 7
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the American Apollo space program, and the first manned US space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew of what was to have been the first manned mission, AS-204 , during a launch pad test in 1967...

, which can differ from modern space ice cream.

By 1972 astronauts also ate classic ice cream on the Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 space station and regular ice cream has also been eaten on the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

.Surprise! Astronauts Eat in orbit
Skylab
Skylab
Skylab was a space station launched and operated by NASA, the space agency of the United States. Skylab orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979, and included a workshop, a solar observatory, and other systems. It was launched unmanned by a modified Saturn V rocket, with a mass of...

 had a refrigerator that was used for real ice cream, and occasionally Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 and International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 astronauts have taken real ice cream into space.

Freeze drying
Freeze drying
Freeze-drying is a dehydration process typically used to preserve a perishable material or make the material more convenient for transport...

 (or lyophilization) removes water from the ice cream by lowering the air pressure
Atmospheric pressure
Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted into a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the atmosphere of Earth . In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point...

 to a point where ice shifts from a solid
Solid
Solid is one of the three classical states of matter . It is characterized by structural rigidity and resistance to changes of shape or volume. Unlike a liquid, a solid object does not flow to take on the shape of its container, nor does it expand to fill the entire volume available to it like a...

 to a gas
Gas
Gas is one of the three classical states of matter . Near absolute zero, a substance exists as a solid. As heat is added to this substance it melts into a liquid at its melting point , boils into a gas at its boiling point, and if heated high enough would enter a plasma state in which the electrons...

. The ice cream is placed in a vacuum chamber
Vacuum chamber
A vacuum chamber is a rigid enclosure from which air and other gases are removed by a vacuum pump. The resulting low pressure, commonly referred to as a vacuum, allows researchers to conduct physical experiments or to test mechanical devices which must operate in outer space...

 and frozen until the water crystallizes. The air pressure is lowered, creating a partial vacuum, forcing air out of the chamber; next heat is applied, vaporizing the ice; finally a freezing coil traps the vaporized water. This process continues for hours, resulting in a freeze-dried ice cream slice.

Freeze-dried foods were developed so that foods could be sent on long-duration spaceflights, as to the Moon, and to reduce the weight of the water and oxygen normally found in food.

Freeze-dried ice cream is sold by mail order and is common in science museum
Science museum
A science museum or a science centre is a museum devoted primarily to science. Older science museums tended to concentrate on static displays of objects related to natural history, paleontology, geology, industry and industrial machinery, etc. Modern trends in museology have broadened the range of...

 and NASA visitor center gift shops, sometimes accompanied by other freeze-dried foods.

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