In 2010, the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) contacted the Jean Hénaff company, USDA and FDA certified, to take part in the “Special Event Meals” program, with the collaboration of the French chef Alain Ducasse.
They asked for Jean Hénaff expertise to create a zero-defect product. The conditions on the ISS require an absolute tightness to ensure a microbiological food safety and to preserve the quality of ingredients.
Agreement with the French national Centre for Space Studies (CNES)
2020 New collaboration official with the CNES
February 2020: the CNES and the Jean Hénaff group make their new collaboration official with the signature of an agreement.
Hénaff Research and Development team has been working closely with the CNES to optimize the production of canned food for the ISS (International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory) and to study new space food solutions for the next flights for the Moon and Mars explorations. In this collaboration, the main expertise implemented by the french company is the crimping of the ultra-light aluminium cans for an absolute tightness and the sterilization according to the size of the can and to the ingredients.
The aim of these techniques is to preserve the nutritional and taste properties of the space food so that astronauts can taste the same in space and enjoy as if they were on earth… with all the required microbiological safety.
In 2020, in addition to the work Jean Hénaff uses to do every year with the teams of the chef Alain Ducasse, the french cannery also worked in partnership with the ESA (European Space Agency), the Michelin- starred chef Thierry Marx and the researcher Raphaël Haumont from the Université d’Orsay to prepare space food festive recipes for the French astronaut Thomas Pesquet who took off into space in April 2021.
Discover more with this articles from the New York Times.
“In the specifications, we are asked to have products that are compact or made up of bites”, specifies Carole Machut, research and development manager. “The primary objective is health security. This requires a high temperature sterilization treatment. This heat treatment must be balanced while preserving the taste qualities.”
BECOMING USDA APPROVED (UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE)
- 1972: First USDA certification
- 2020: The US National Veterinary Service conducts an audit and renew Hénaff certification.
The USDA certification is mandatory to export meat to the United States. A certifying agent
issues the organic certificate. Such a certificate requires us to comply with drastic health standards and various European standards.
Yet, only two production companies in France currently holding USDA approved.
Advanced Systems Space Food project
What is the Advanced Systems Space Food project?
In 2018, we launched work on «activities to prepare astronaut food space solutions for future flights and exploration». This project explores all fields of agri-food with:
- Ingredients (including production of salad, spirulina, etc.)
- Kitchen process equipment
- Processes, which are the procedures (e.g. emulsion)
The french company, Jean Hénaff ables to realize these ideas in 2020 through two concomitant projects.
- Firstly, throughout the year 2020, with optimization work in parallel with meal production.
This includes the organoleptic optimization of the existing system, the study of new solutions and the optimization of the production laboratory.
2. The second project was our participation in 0 G parabolic flights.
A zero-gravity flight is a flight where pilots make a specific maneuver to recreate a state of weightlessness inside the aircraft for 22 seconds. The flight is divided into three stages: the parabola pull-up, the parabola and the parabola pull-out. This flight enables carrying out research and scientific projects without going into space.
Thanks to this process we were able to test our products and their reactions in zero gravity.
Discover all Jean Hénaff meat canned products.