Astronaut in outer , ... ]

Astronaut in outer , ... ] DoubleTree by Hilton

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The Great NASA Bake-Off

High-tech agriculture would keep far-flung astronauts alive, but making something delicious would keep them happy.

The sight of a cookie had never made me grimace until this one showed up in my email inbox.

DoubleTree by Hilton, the hotel chain, was announcing that it would soon senda little oven and a batch of cookie dough to the International Space Station so that astronauts could, for the first time, bake chocolate-chip cookies in space. The cookies, which the hotel gives guests for free when they check in, are “the perfect food to make the cosmos a more welcoming place,” DoubleTree said.

Call me a grump, but the endeavor felt gimmicky, the latest in a long line of attempts to promote a company’s product, from Tang to KFC sandwiches, against the dreamy backdrop of outer space. The plan reminded me most of the efforts by Coca-Cola and Pepsi to make space-travel-friendly soda cans for astronauts flying on the now-retired space shuttles. The companies poured a staggering amount of money into the design—millions, in Pepsi’s case—but it wasn’t exactly successful; the cans leaked and sputtered, and the soda was warm. Carbonated drinks are lousy in space even without a special can; gas bubbles don’t float to the top and fizz out like they do on Earth, so astronauts consume more gas when they sip, which means they burp more. And without gravity to anchor the contents of their stomach, burping could bring some of them back up.