This Is The Story Of The Corned Beef Sandwich In Space That Nearly Killed Everyone

John Young Sandwich Gemini 3 (3)

Space missions are critical, and even the smallest of harmless acts may have enormous consequences when done in space. You might imagine astronauts can not possibly make stupid mistakes, but they occasionally do. This has endangered lives at some occasions and caused a loss of valuables at others.

An astronaut decided to sneak a corned beef sandwich up the Gemini 3 spacecraft in 1965. There is nothing really wrong with eating a corned beef sandwich for an astronaut, but when you are up in space, it is not quite simple. Astronaut John Young hid the sandwich in a pocket in his spacesuit and smuggled it up there. Director of Flight Crew Operations Deke Slayton wrote in his autobiography that he, in fact, had given Young the permission to take the sandwich.

This is how the conversation between John and his co-pilot Gus Grisson went:

Source: Slashgear

There is a memorial for the 50-year-old sandwich stored in resin and displayed at the Virgil I. Gus Grissom Memorial Museum in Mitchell, Indiana.

Source: Raymond Cunningham/Flickr

When John pulled out the sandwich, deciding to eat it. It began to break away in crumbs. The co-pilot Gus Grisson explained his thoughts at that moment, “It’s breaking up. I am going to stick it in my pocket.” To this, John commented, “It was a thought, anyway… not a very good one. Pretty good though, if it would just hold together. I took a bite, but crumbs of rye bread started floating all around the cabin.”

Source: Collect Space

Each of the crewmen had taken a bite before the sandwich was put away. The released crumbs could have caused a disaster with the electronics on board. When the crew returned to earth, they were reprimanded, and all other crews were explicitly told never to do such a thing again. John, however, was spared his career luckily and the next time he went up on the Apollo 16 mission, he didn’t try taking lunch with him.

Watch the Great Big Story video of the incident:


  1. Dan Burleson Reply

    The “next time” John Young flew into space was Gemini 10, Apollo 10, and then Apollo 16. Just FYI.

    • Dan Burleson Reply

      Not to mention the first Space Shuttle as well as STS-9, the start of the ISS. Geez, do some research will you?

  2. James Smith Reply

    Both NASA and you should know that “snuck” is not a word. Obviously, neither of you know or even care that you don’t know. I know that “ignorance is bliss” but does it really make you happy to know your text looks as though it were written by an under-achieving 6th grade student?

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