It has been a busy week on the International Space Station (ISS). First, an unmanned Japanese craft called Kounotori departed from the station having delivered its cargo of six new lithium-ion batteries to replace older batteries as part of the station’s power system upgrade. Now, a craft from commercial cargo provider Northrop Grumman has launched to carry even more supplies including 8,200 pounds of research equipment and hardware to the station.
Included aboard Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus capsule is a very special delivery that’s surely hotly awaited by the ISS astronauts. It’s not an instrument for ground-breaking scientific research or a crucial piece of engineering equipment, but rather something much more down to earth: A cookie oven. The Zero G Oven is designed to turn cookie mix into delicious, freshly baked cookies and has insulating and venting mechanisms to allow safe operation with the controlled environment of the ISS.
As convection heating is not possible in microgravity, the oven uses electric heating elements similar to those found in a standard toaster. The cookies come in a silicone pouch was allows steam to escape during the baking process but which keeps contained any crumbs which could potentially escape and damage equipment onboard the station. In the future, the oven could be used for grilling, pan cooking, and griddling of other food types as well. In addition to the importance of plentiful nutrition and calories for the astronauts, food items like cookies or pizza are a much-anticipated treat for the crew.
The ISS astronauts have found a way to keep themselves amused while waiting for the cargo ships to depart and arrive though, playing a game of zero-gravity baseball. NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir, and Andrew Morgan played a space-borne version of the great American pastime last week and gave a shoutout to Houston, Texas, home of the astronaut corps:
Ever wonder what it would be like playing baseball in space?
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) October 26, 2019
The Cygnus craft is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday, November 4 at around 1:10 a.m. PT. You can tune in to NASA TV to watch the craft being captured by the ISS’s robotic arm and then see coverage of the installation operation.