...with NASA's astronauts now convinced that using tortillas was preferable to making sandwiches with normal bread, the space agency set about trying to ensure a steady supply. There was just one problem, according to Vickie Kloeris, the manager of the International Space Station Food System: there were no suitable tortillas to be found near Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Space Shuttle launch site.
It wasn't, of course, that no one in the area sold tortillas, it was that none that could be found met NASA's microbiological needs -- essentially, that the food could survive in space. That was especially true when Shuttle missions started lasting multiple weeks, not days. NASA had plenty of history producing acceptable "extended shelf-life bread products" that flew aboard the Shuttles in anti-mold anaerobic packaging designed to provide muffins and flatbreads for the military.
But it had no experience with tortillas, so it had to start making them, Kloeris said. And it did, successfully producing them for [multi-week] Shuttle missions. When it came time to pack food for missions to the International Space Station (ISS) that could last much longer, though, it was out of its league.
Thankfully, Taco Bell came to the rescue. As Kloeris remembered it, the food giant began producing a commercial tortilla pack that was microbiologically designed to last nine months. "So we got out of the tortilla (making) business," she said.