Update, January 24, 2020: We have a bit more information this week about the five chocolate chip cookies fished out of the Pacific Ocean after they parachuted back down from outer space earlier this month. Per the Associated Press, the cookies have now been removed from the SpaceX capsule that sent them back to Earth from the International Space Station along with 3,800 pounds of space gear. The cookies have been whisked off to a lab near Houston, where they remain frozen.
Yes, that means no one has tasted them yet. In fact, they’re still sealed in the pouches they were baked in, to avoid crumb-tastrophe aboard the ISS. But we’ve also learned from the AP that, “while looking more or less normal, the best cookies required two hours of baking time.” Two hours to make a chocolate chip cookie that doesn’t even look its cutest? Space baking sounds about as efficient as spinning cotton candy underwater. These cookies had better taste phenomenal—although after the journey they’ve had, we’ll be lucky if they’ve got much flavor at all.
Original post, January 9, 2020: Five cookies have officially made their triumphant return to Earth! And with a special title: They were the first cookies to be baked in space, on the International Space Station. Move over, Buzz Aldrin, we’ve got new American heroes to worship.
Cookie dough was sent up to the ISS in early November, along with a specialized zero-gravity oven, to test whether baking in space is even possible. The cookies were baked, one at a time, in a special silicon pouch, designed to minimize the risk of crumb creation. Crumbs, apparently, have the potential to wreak absolute havoc on the ISS—they could float away and damage sensitive machinery. But there’s no report of that happening during this baking excursion. Instead, five crumb-free cookies were parachuted into the Pacific Ocean this week, along with 3,800 pounds of space gear.
The cookie dough was weirdly provided by DoubleTree, as in the hotel chain, which I only just learned bakes signature chocolate chip cookies. Iconic! Capitalism being what it is, this actually wasn’t the first sponsored content in space. In 2001, Pizza Hut sent a pie to space, where it was consumed by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachov. Pizza Hut paid the Russians $1 million for the stunt, and the Americans, under NASA’s strict rules, weren’t allowed a bite.
The cookies returned in a bundle with other space experiments, including eight mice that have been genetically engineered to have double the average muscle mass. You know how the saying goes: If you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want to totally roid out.