Spaceflight Insider

Skywalking: Food for thought… just before liftoff

launch-day-breakfast-8-94-sts-68 NASA photo courtesy of Tom Jones posted on SpaceFlight Insider - Copy

Since the earliest days of human spaceflight, there has been a tradition of enjoying a meal prior to launch. Photo Credit: NASA

In a tradition dating back to Alan Shepard’s first U.S. spaceflight in 1961, astronauts are served a favorite meal before suiting up and heading to the launch pad – and into space. On STS-68, scheduled for an Aug. 18, 1994 launch, I asked the dietitians at the NASA Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy Space Center (my favorite was Dotti Kunde) to prepare a mushroom and cheese omelet with bacon, toast, fresh fruit, coffee, and orange juice.

My crew gathered in the dining room of crew quarters for a ceremonial photo and a wave at the TV cameras, and a formal acceptance of our “mission cake”, a giant sheet cake with our SRL-2/STS-68 patch decorating the top. After the photos, the cake immediately went into the freezer and was delivered to Houston. We’d eat the cake when – and if – we actually returned from a successful mission.

Breakfast was served between five and six hours before liftoff, so there was no possibility that any of this delicious food was going to still be in my stomach when I arrived in free fall. Hence, I needn’t worry about seeing any of it if I experienced a bout of space sickness on arrival in orbit. (Besides, I took anti-nausea meds on the launch pad, eliminating any possibility of “space adaptation syndrome” that might require me to deploy my space sickness bag.)

Of course, this was just the first launch morning breakfast I’d enjoy on STS-68. I came back six weeks later for another one, following our pad abort on August 18 and Endeavour’s return to the pad for our next attempt. But that’s another story….

Thank you, Dot and friends, for a delicious breakfast. It was plenty tasty enough to make one intent on returning to Earth.

The preceding article was written by Tom Jones for his personal blog, it can be viewed here: Food for thought

Tom Jones’ online journal, Skywalking-1, is a new SpaceFlight Insider partner. In order to relay Jones’ personal reflections on space exploration, we will be sharing his articles as part of our new, ongoing, “Skywalking” series. Tune into SpaceFlight Insider for more of Jones’ orbital reflections.


Thomas D. Jones, PhD, is a scientist, author, pilot, and veteran NASA astronaut. In more than eleven years with NASA, he flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. On his last flight, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

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