Moments in history can be both large and small, life changing or surprisingly familiar. And sometimes they are tasty. For the first time ever, cookies are being baked in space, and it’s a bigger deal than you might think. These cookies will also be the first thing ever to be baked in space!

Unfortunately, no one gets to eat the historic cookies. Technically speaking they are science experiment and might not even get fully baked through. The good news is that regardless, the delicious smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies will soon be wafting through the tunnels and cramped capsules of the International Space Station (ISS).

Baking anything in space is a challenge – just image the sugar, flour and eggs floating around in zero gravity! The baking process itself is also problematic. Ovens work by evenly distributing heat. An element at the bottom of the oven is heated and via gravitational forces the resulting hot air rises into the oven displacing the falling cooler air and heats the food. In addition to moving around the air, gravity also keeps the cookies on the tray. Since space is a zero-gravity environment, pretty much every aspect of baking on earth simply won’t apply in space.

Hilton’s DoubleTree Hotel supplied the cookie dough, but otherwise this important experiment won’t be looking like any baking project we have ever seen. Researchers at Zero G Kitchen worked for nearly two years to create a unique circular oven that uses a silicone frame to hold all the ingredients in place during the baking process. Cylindrical heating coils then focus heat on the food in the center of the chamber.

The oven arrived at the ISS in November, but the experiment has not yet been scheduled. However, the astronauts won’t have an opportunity to get very messy – the cookie dough is pre-mixed. Even though they won’t be taste-testing their yummy science experiment, don’t feel too bad, DoubleTree sent along a batch of earthly baked chocolate chip cookies too.

To learn more about home baking back here on earth, check out the recipes and resources at the Home Baking Association. To learn more about sugar’s important and irreplaceable role in baked goods and other foods, click here.

Update (1/23/2020): The cookies were officially baked in space and there were some surprising results. Cookies take much longer to bake in space! After the first few came out under-baked, the first successful cookie was in the oven for 2 hours. No one knows how they taste or if they’re safe to eat yet, but one astronaut did report that the cookie browned. In addition to flavor and texture, sugar undergoes a chemical reaction during baking that results in browning. Read more from here

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