Thanksgiving in space: Irradiated turkey on the menu

Six astronauts on the International Space Station will enjoy a tweaked version of the traditional Thanksgiving menu.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
Space food
A sampling from NASA's space food collection. NASA

While most of the US are roasting turkeys and splooshing cranberry sauce out of cans, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be floating high above the Earth, enjoying a Thanksgiving meal of their very own out of bags.

The menu isn't so different at first glance. There will be turkey, yams, green beans, dressing, potatoes, and cobbler. It's the details that make it all sound a little less appetizing than a meal cooked with gravity. The smoked turkey is irradiated, the yams are thermostabilized, and the green beans are freeze-dried.

In a special Thanksgiving message from the ISS, astronaut Mike Hopkins talks about the holidays in orbit. "Though we miss our families, it's great to be in space," he says, noting that green bean casserole is one of his favorites, even though preparing it requires mixing the contents of a couple of different space-food packets together.

Thanksgiving is still a workday on the space station, but the crew will get to chow down after the chores are done. It's just that the "home-style potatoes" are going to be more "space-style" than what mom would make on Earth.