History, The Daily Feed

Smithsonian Snapshot of the Week: Space Tea

Space Tea, courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

The Smithsonian has started a new project, giving us (and you!) a weekly peek at an object in the Institution’s vast collection (137 million items!) that is not on current display in any of their museums. This week’s artifact comes as a celebration of yesterday’s announcement of their acquisition of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off from Kennedy Space Center April 12, 1981, at 7 a.m. EST to begin the first shuttle mission, STS-1. The primary mission objectives were to accomplish a safe ascent into orbit, check out all the systems on the space shuttle and return to Earth for a safe landing. The first flight of the reusable spacecraft successfully met all of these objectives.

This powdered tea was returned from the first Space Shuttle mission food kit. Astronauts would inject water through the port from a dispenser in the galley, shake the container to dissolve the tea crystals and squeeze the accordion-shaped container to drink the liquid. The container is compact and suited to weightlessness. The tea is typical of Shuttle-era menu choices, but the packaging has changed since the early missions, first to covered cups and then to foil pouches with straws.