ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Who doesn't appreciate a nice care package? When you're away from home, it's always good to get a delivery with a few of your favorite goodies, especially when you're 240 miles above the Earth's surface. The package is sent this way.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Liftoff of the Falcon 9.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
That's a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket taking off Monday from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and headed for the International Space Station. Aboard - 6,400 pounds of provisions, medical supplies, experiments. And here's what caught our eye - ice cream.
VICKIE KLOERIS: Little Blue Bell cups. It had about 30 cups. And then they also I think had some Snickers Ice Cream bars.
SIEGEL: That's Vickie Kloeris, NASA's manager of the Space Food Systems Laboratory. Those are the folks who create space-friendly food for astronauts. And she says orbital ice cream delivery is rare.
KLOERIS: It's like a really special treat. But when it gets there, they have no place to put it.
CORNISH: On the International Space Station, freezers are meant for frozen experiments, not frozen ice cream.
KLOERIS: Blood samples, urine samples, not anything that you can really co-locate with food. So when SpaceX docks, they're going to have a limited amount of time to eat that ice cream. (Laughter) It's tough duty, but they'll manage (laughter) to eat it in the time allowed.
SIEGEL: Now, ice cream is not the only goody for the astronauts on the space station. There is a 20-pound bag called the fresh food kit.
KLOERIS: We always ask them via email what it is they want. And then we usually throw in a surprise or two as well.
SIEGEL: Extra coffee, hot sauce, maybe some fresh produce with a surprise tucked into Monday's resupply - spoiler alert for those of you in orbit - avocadoes.
KLOERIS: It's like Christmas when fresh food shows up.
CORNISH: Spaceship-delivered ice cream and avocados may seem trivial. Every ounce is expensive when you're sending things via rocket. But Kloeris says creature comforts matter.
KLOERIS: If you're up there for a long time, then food becomes much more important from a psychological perspective.
CORNISH: Astronauts are expected to stay grounded while suspended in Earth's orbit. Vicki Kloeris says fresh food helps. Ice cream does, too.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ICE CREAM SONG")
THE DYNAMICS: (Singing) If loving you was ice cream, oh, I could be the ice cream man.
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