Station commander Shane Kimbrough is an astronaut with NASA and is in charge of preparing a Thanksgiving feast for the rest of the crew since they can't make it back down to Earth in time for the family-oriented event.
The astronauts celebrating Thanksgiving this year will get to enjoy sliced smoked turkey, candid yams, cherry and blue berry cobbler in their prepackaged pouches. Much of the food items are freeze-dried or dehydrated, so the crew will need to add water before eating it.
Mission Control promises to beam up some live football games "to complete the experience", Kimbrough said.
This year, the two American astronauts aboard the ISS will share the turkey meals with French and Russian crew members. "Scientists also have to consider how the bars will affect crew morale, since food choice, variety and taste are important aspects of ensuring they consume enough, especially as mission lengths increase", NASA notes.
The facility at Texas A&M produces MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) pouches to hold the food.
Like many Atlantans, astronaut Shane Kimbrough plans to gather around the table and eat a traditional Thanksgiving meal. "So we're not going to get the day off like most folks in the United States", Kimbrough said.
While the two astronauts will work through the day Thursday (unlike many Americans who have the day off), they're still planning to have a big meal with their four other global crewmembers that evening.
However, food preparation and presentation will be very different.
The food bars, which are being developed in coordination with NASA's Human Research Programme have been tested by crew members inside HERA, the agency's three-story habitat at Johnson Space Center created to serve as an analog for the isolation and remote conditions in exploration scenarios. We can't have a Thanksgiving meal without some green beans.
"We're obviously going to be talking about what Thanksgiving means to us, what we're thankful for, and sharing the tradition with our French and Russian colleagues". There'll be powdered sweet tea with lemon for Kimbrough, an Atlanta native.