Shuttle program's real fuel: Two decades of M&Ms

Turns out the candy-coated bits of chocolate have been aboard every shuttle mission, starting with Columbia's 1981 launch right up to the farewell launch of Atlantis this week.

Eric Mack Contributing Editor
Eric Mack has been a CNET contributor since 2011. Eric and his family live 100% energy and water independent on his off-grid compound in the New Mexico desert. Eric uses his passion for writing about energy, renewables, science and climate to bring educational content to life on topics around the solar panel and deregulated energy industries. Eric helps consumers by demystifying solar, battery, renewable energy, energy choice concepts, and also reviews solar installers. Previously, Eric covered space, science, climate change and all things futuristic. His encrypted email for tips is ericcmack@protonmail.com.
Expertise Solar, solar storage, space, science, climate change, deregulated energy, DIY solar panels, DIY off-grid life projects. CNET's "Living off the Grid" series. https://www.cnet.com/feature/home/energy-and-utilities/living-off-the-grid/ Credentials
  • Finalist for the Nesta Tipping Point prize and a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Eric Mack

Astronaut Loren Shriver fuels up aboard Atlantis on a 1992 mission. NASA

"We've been honored to fly on more than 130 missions with hundreds of American heroes over the last three decades," Debra A. Sandler, chief consumer officer of Mars Chocolate North America, said in a statement. "It's bittersweet to see this program, which has inspired millions to reach for the stars, come to an end, but we wish the crew of Atlantis a safe and successful mission."

Red, blue, and gray commemorative M&Ms with July 8, 2011 printed on one side and a rocket on the other them have been spotted figuratively floating around the CNET offices and are literally floating around the Space Shuttle Atlantis in zero gravity this week.

In addition to being included in NASA's space food system and finding a place on the menu of the International Space Station, M&M's are also part of a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute's National Air & Space Museum and have inspired at least one cool science experiment about how best to distribute glucose in zero gravity.

Now I guess we know why NASA hasn't made contact with extra-terrestrials yet. Everyone knows E.T. prefers Reese's Pieces.