Those hotel chocolate-chip cookies will be the closest astronauts have come to truly baking something in their high-flying kitchens. NASA says astronauts won’t actually eat the cookies because they are, technically, a science experiment. The treats will be returned home for examination.
But imagine if someday space travelers, whether they’re orbiting in a space station high above Earth or living in domes on Mars, could really make their own food. Not just to survive, like Matt Damon using his own waste to grow potatoes in The Martian, but to enjoy themselves.
Astronauts on the International Space Station already do things to make the place feel more like home, like playing board games and binge-watching TV shows. They often eat meals together, especially during the holidays. Cooking would provide another distinctly human experience in a strange, alien place. It might bring comfort, and even ease stress. It could, for a short time, distract them from their unusual surroundings, which, given the chance, would probably kill them.
For now, meals are mostly made for them, back on Earth.