This One Time an Astronaut Smuggled a Corned Beef Sandwich To Space

I write a lot of articles, y’all, but that’s definitely one of the best headlines I’ve ever had the privilege of typing.

This tale begins with astronaut John Young. The 9th person to walk on the moon, Young enjoyed the longest career of any astronaut before – or after – him at NASA, flying 6 space missions in over 42 years of service.

Yeah. I know.


He flew his first mission in 1985, the 3rd Gemini mission. He and fellow astronaut Gus Grissom named their craft “Molly Brown,” after the Unsinkable Molly Brown, and when NASA suggested that they change it – no need to worry about crashing into the sea, after all – they said fine, they would call it “Titanic” instead.

The “Molly Brown” was the last crew-named spacecraft to lift off on NASA’s watch.

What NASA officials didn’t know was that Young wasn’t done causing trouble in 1985. Not even close.

Before the flight, Young’s friend Walter Schirra gave him a corned beef sandwich, and Young decided to stick it in his pocket and take it along.


You know, just to see what would happen.

He surprised Grissom with it, and his partner took a few bites before the sandwich started to fall apart.

NASA wasn’t happy, because the crumbs from the sandwich could have caused trouble with the ship’s mechanics, though everything turned out fine.

At least, they did until Congress got wind of the situation – they were upset because taxpayer money had been spent on “official food” that was supposed to be evaluated.

Image Credit: NASA

Spoiler alert: a few bites of cold corned beef did not spoil anyone’s appetite.

Young was reprimanded, NASA implemented new rules as far as what astronauts could bring on flights, and Young was reportedly peeved that his stupid sandwich got more attention than all of the hard work and achievements of the men on board.

I guess that’s what you get when you fly by the seat of your corned beef-laden pants.

He died in 2018 at the ripe old age of 87.