What It Was Like To Eat The First Meal On The Moon

NASA's 1969 Apollo 11 mission was a "giant leap for mankind," to quote astronaut Neil Armstrong's famous first words on the Moon. You've likely heard all the most important, world-changing aspects of Apollo 11 and humanity's first visit to the Moon. But there are many fascinating tidbits in the smaller details of Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins' lunar odyssey. What, and how, did they eat out there?


Would you believe the first food eaten in space was bacon? Freeze-dried, rehydrated bacon, but bacon all the same. The first meal eaten on the surface of the Moon was a breakfast of bacon squares, peaches, sugar cookie cubes, coffee, and pineapple-grapefruit juice. Armstrong and Aldrin ate this while sitting inside the cramped Lunar Module Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility (Collins remained in orbit). The two later ate beef stew and cream-of-chicken soup during their 21-hour stay before reuniting with Collins and starting their journey home.

Bacon in space

As far back as the Apollo 7, bacon frequently appeared in Apollo missions. The crew on that mission ate lots of bacon squares during their nearly 11-day spaceflight. And the astronauts were always pleased: During Apollo 7, Captain Bill Pogue declared, "Happiness is a package of bacon squares" (via Popular Science). During the Apollo 8 mission, astronaut Jim Lovell similarly said, "Happiness is bacon squares for breakfast." If that name sounds familiar, Lovell later commanded the Apollo 13 mission, and Tom Hanks eventually played him in the "Apollo 13" movie. The Apollo 13 mission also packed plenty of bacon squares.


Returning to Apollo 11's first meal on the Moon, the astronauts had a lot of options. According to NASA's press kit, the trip included a zero-gravity snack pantry filled with "freeze-dried rehydratable, wet-pack and spoon-bowl foods" for the three astronauts. They also had plenty of "rehydratable desserts," including applesauce, chocolate pudding, and some candy bars (the press kit doesn't specify what kind). They had plenty of coffee and cocoa but no beer: Beer's not allowed in space.

Astronaut food facts

Cooking bacon is easy here on Earth, but astronaut food works differently. NASA dehydrates as much food as it can before launching into space because this significantly reduces its weight during launch. Once in space, the astronauts use water to rehydrate the meal, often by sticking a specialized water gun into the meal's sealed package. Dehydrating also makes food last significantly longer, because less moisture means fewer opportunities for bacteria to grow. Once rehydrated, astronauts do their best to eat without their lunch floating away.


Besides rehydrating foods, astronauts use other cooking tricks in space. On the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronaut Sandra Magnus used duct tape to hold chopped onions in place and then used a food warmer to cook them slowly. In 2019, astronauts aboard the ISS successfully baked cookies, for the first time, using a newly designed space oven. As we prepare to send astronauts back to the Moon and Mars, they will likely have more dishes to go with their bacon.