HOUSTON (Reuters) - Armchair astronauts can take their dreams to the dining table on Thursday -- NASA is hosting a virtual dinner with the shuttle Atlantis crew.
The dinner will include brie cheese, sausage and crackers to start the meal, grilled chicken or barbecue brisket, Southwestern corn and baked beans for the main course and apple pie for dessert.
Orbital dining enthusiasts will have to do their own cooking but NASA will provide the recipes on its website -- go.nasa.gov/AllAmericanMeal.
The astronauts' version is thermostabilized, or dehydrated, to prevent spoilage and packed in pouches to be mixed with water or warmed in a small oven.
Atlantis astronaut Sandy Magnus, who developed a skill for space cuisine during her 4.5-month stay on the International Space Station, provided the impetus for what has been dubbed the "All American Meal."
"Originally this was planned as a July 4th meal," said Vickie Kloeris, manager of NASA's Space Food Systems Laboratory at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "Now, it's been renamed the 'All-American Meal.'"
Atlantis' launch was rescheduled for July 8 after delays to the previous mission, but NASA decided to go ahead with the special meal.
"We're offering an opportunity for the public to see some of what the crew is going to be eating on orbit," Kloeris said.
The Atlantis astronauts are halfway through a planned 13-day mission to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The flight is the 135th and last for NASA's 30-year-old space shuttle program. The crew is due back at the Kennedy Space Center on July 21.
Editing by Jane Sutton and Patricia Reaney