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Corned Beef sandwich in space that nearly killed everyone: Stories you didn’t learn in history class

Nick Knight

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 1965, a young astronaut named John Young snuck the sandwich into his space suit shortly before the launch of Gemini 3, NASA's first two-man space mission. source

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 1965, a young astronaut named John Young snuck the sandwich into his space suit shortly before the launch of Gemini 3, NASA’s first two-man space mission. source

During a space mission in March 1965, during the Gemini 3 mission, NASA astronaut John Young pulled a corned beef sandwich out of his space suit. This was no fancy high tech space food – it actually was a normal corned beef sandwich. As a rule, there is no problem with eating a corned beef sandwich. HOWEVER, when you are hundreds of miles above earth and floating in space – then it becomes an issue.

According to wiki:
The only major incident during the orbital phase involved a contraband corned beef sandwich that Young had smuggled on board, hiding it in a pocket of his spacesuit (though Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton wrote in his autobiography that he gave Young permission to do so). Grissom found this to be highly amusing, saying later, “After the flight our superiors at NASA let us know in no uncertain terms that non-man-rated corned beef sandwiches were out for future space missions. But John’s deadpan offer of this strictly non-regulation goodie remains one of the highlights of our flight for me.”

The crewmen each took a few bites before the sandwich was restowed. The crumbs it released could have wreaked havoc with the craft’s electronics, so the crewmen were reprimanded when they returned to Earth. Other crews were warned not to pull the same type of stunt.

In an interview in LIFE magazine:

“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 crumbs it released could have wreaked havoc with the craft’s electronics, so the crewmen were reprimanded when they returned to Earth. Other crews were warned not to pull the same type of stunt.

Actually – the video below tells it a whole lot better!!