At first, it may seem odd that GU would end up in space, but athletes and astronauts have a lot more in common than you may think. Just like the endurance athletes we’ve worked with since our founding, astronauts spend countless hours training, face physical demands including prolonged exertion, carry heavy loads (a spacesuit weighs 400 pounds on Earth and about 70 on the moon), deal with psychological stress, and risk exposure to environmental hazards. On top of it all, there are special uniforms and equipment, limited access to hydration and nutrition, and of course, a mission to achieve. In many ways, space exploration is an extension of adventure sports here on Earth so it seemed natural for GU to provide the nutrition for this unique need state. We have spent over 30 years perfecting a product that provides athletes necessary nutrients, in a format that is portable, easy to digest, and tastes good. Now, we get to take that expertise and apply it to an opportunity that is quite literally out of this world. Check out our press release.
Our partnership with Axiom Space, developer of the next-generation spacesuit, is exciting because not only do we get to fuel astronauts for future missions, but we also get to be part of history. We are ultimately setting the stage for the next era of human space exploration, and GU will be at the forefront of the action.
“I LOVE YOUR PRODUCTS!”: THE PARTNERSHIP BEGINS
Earlier this year, a few of us from GU went to Houston to visit the fine folks at Axiom Space, to have a look at their next-generation spacesuit and learn more about the challenges of feeding astronauts in low or zero gravity. To our surprise, many of the people we met knew of GU and several were GU users, having fueled their own races and adventures with our products. In fact, that’s what inspired the Axiom Space team to reach out to us in the first place. It seemed that they were as excited to meet us as we were to be there.
The author, Roxanne Vogel (far right), with GU President Magda Boulet, VP of People & Culture Felicia Lopez, and Sr Marketing Manager Amy Cameron (right to left)
By the end of our trip, we knew what we were up against. We saw the suit and the small cavity where our nutrition system would reside. All we had to do was find a way to get our product to the astronaut’s mouth, hands-free, and provide enough calories to keep them fueled for up to 8 hours of exploration.
THE DREAM IS REAL
I have always been enamored with the allure of space exploration. Though I’ve experienced the great expanses of uninhabited lands here on earth, to me, space is the next great frontier, a place that still produces more questions than answers. As a scientist, I’ve long wanted to study astronaut nutrition in particular, and I once even volunteered for a 45-day spaceflight simulation study that replicated the experience of living and working on a space station. There is still so much to learn about the effects of space and microgravity on human physiology, and how nutrition can play a critical role in keeping astronauts healthy during long periods of space flight, when bones become brittle, muscles shrink, sleep is disturbed, and radiation exposure can wreak havoc on the body. Fueling EVAs (extra-vehicular activities, or “spacewalks”) is just one piece of a much larger puzzle. And as you’d expect from the family-owned company that created the world’s first energy gel, we are going to approach this new mission to fuel astronauts in space with curiosity and a commitment to make the best damn space sports nutrition the universe has ever seen.