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NASA Chefs prepare food good enough to send you into orbit

Chefs Joe Alfano (left) and Bill Farina (right) stand in the crew quarters kitchen at Kennedy Space Center. They cook every meal for the astronauts before a launch.
Marian Summerall
Chefs Joe Alfano (left) and Bill Farina (right) stand in the crew quarters kitchen at Kennedy Space Center. They cook every meal for the astronauts before a launch.

Cooking at the Kennedy Space Center

We've talked about food in space, but what about the food astronauts eat before a launch?

Ahead of each mission, crews quarantine at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where they have their own chefs and some tasty meals. We’ll speak with Bill Farina and Joe Alfano, two of the chefs responsible for cooking for the astronauts before they leave the planet.

Farina grew up on the space coast in Satellite Beach and his father worked in the space industry. Now, Farina gets to cook for the astronauts after watching almost every launch since his youth.

"Never, never, never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagined that I would be here and cooking for them," Farina said. "I call them true American heroes."

After working in the restaurant industry for 30 years, Joe Alfano joined NASA to feed astronauts. He said he enjoys sharing his creativity and cooking meals that make the astronauts happy.

"It's wonderful," said Alfano. "We spend a lot of time with them, right out in the dining room, and serve them any special request."

While in quarantine, the crew often dine together. And chefs like Bill and Joe make sure they have all the comforts of home — including fresh-baked cookies.

"We're definitely here to serve them and make sure that they're smiling."

Food for the astronauts cooked by NASA chefs.
Joe Alfano
Food for the astronauts cooked by NASA chefs.

Global excitement in the space industry

Enthusiasm for space exploration is a global phenomenon. We’ll hear from our intern Amy Diaz about reporting on space news from other countries and in different languages.

Diaz has been interviewing journalists around the world for their perspectives on space news and exploration. She interviewed Russian space journalist Anatoly Zak to discuss his career covering the space industry.

"Anatoly described Russia's participation in space, a large part of Russian nationalism," Diaz said. "It's part of Russian nationalism, I would say and so it's important. It's a big part of Russian psyche and Russian mentality."

Hoburg's coming home

Plus, we'll revisit a conversation with space station astronaut Woody Hoburg, who is set to turn to Earth in a few weeks. We spoke with Hoburg about training to fly SpaceX's Crew Dragon and understanding the risk of spaceflight.

When asked about his mental preparedness, Hoburg said that he is ready for the mission and truly believes in the importance of space exploration.

"If we weren't willing to take some risks, we wouldn't do it," Hoburg said. "But I feel that it's well worth the risk we're taking and so I just couldn't be happier and more excited to get to participate."

Marian is a multimedia journalist at WMFE 90.7 working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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