The Corned Beef Sandwich In Space That Nearly Got Everyone Killed
50-year-old corned beef sandwich, preserved in resin, sits on a table at the Virgil I. Gus Grissom Memorial Museum in Mitchell, Indiana. The ordinary-looking sandwich is a memento from space
In March 1965, shortly before the launch of Gemini 3, NASA’s first two-man space mission, astronaut John Young snuck a corned beef sandwich into his space suit.
There was nothing fancy about the sandwich - it actually was just a normal corned beef sandwich you’d prepare at home and as a rule, there’s no problem eating it. However, when you are floating in space, then it becomes an issue.
“It’s breaking up. I am going to stick it in my pocket,” said Grissom after taking a bite. “It was a thought, anyway… not a very good one,” John Young replied, “Pretty good though, if it would just hold together.” Of course, the contraband corned beef sandwich had no such outer layer, as Grissom was quick to discover. “I took a bite, but crumbs of rye bread started floating all around the cabin.”
The astronauts each took a few bites before the sandwich was restowed. The crumbs from it could have wreaked havoc with the craft’s electronics, so the men were reprimanded when they returned to Earth. Other astronauts were warned not to pull the same type of stunt.