Gastronaut organic freeze-dried ice cream is light years ahead of 1960s version, founder says

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Robert Collignon gave up his job and took a 1987 Volkswagen van across the country to promote Gastronaut Ice Cream.
Robert Collignon gave up his job and took a 1987 Volkswagen van across the country to promote Gastronaut Ice Cream.

Related tags Ice cream

Gastronaut Ice Cream is an organic freeze-dried ice cream that made its debut on Kickstarter this month with the goal of raising $9,500. It quickly blasted past that funding goal by more than $40,000.

Robert Collignon founded the company after two years of freeze-drying ice cream in his Brooklyn, New York, apartment using artisanal ice cream, but needed a way to expand production. The money raised under Kickstarter will go towards a large commercial machine.

“Fancy artisanal ice cream is everywhere because people have realized it tastes better than the cheap stuff,”​ Collignon said. “My goal was to bring that level of flavor and quality to a freeze-dried ice cream bar because it had never been done. I looked all over but it didn’t exist.”

Following the Kickstarter launch, it will be available at select Brooklyn retailers, and online through the company’s website.

The modern solution to the 1960s dilemma

What is usually referred to as "Astronaut ice cream" never made it to space.

Up until the launch of Gastronaut, most consumers were familiar with freeze-dried ice cream in the form of Neapolitan-style blocks sold at museum gift shops under the name “Astronaut Ice Cream” ​- a misnomer, according to the National Air and Space Museum, since freeze-dried ice cream never made it to space. 

To set Gastronaut completely apart from this, Collignon uses “super-premium organic ice cream”​ made locally in Brooklyn and slices it into rectangles then puts them into a freeze-dryer for a day and adds sea salt. The finished product is ice cream you can eat anywhere without the concern of it melting.

“After it’s freeze-dried, you pop it into your mouth, and it tastes just as good as the frozen ice cream it started with—actually better, because my secret is to add a touch of sea salt,”​ he said.

Gastronaut-fueled road trip


To achieve his dream of launching a premium freeze-dried ice cream brand, Collignon left his job as a creative director for a Manhattan advertising agency, gave up his apartment, and moved into a 1987 Volkswagen van to travel across the US, Mexico, and Canada. He then set off on the 20,000-mile trek to take his homemade freeze-dried ice cream to as many people as possible.  

“Ice cream melts everywhere you take it, especially living in a van with no fridge. But my freeze-dried version let me bring ice cream anywhere I traveled,”​ Collignon said.

New flavors to come

Gastronaut Ice Cream is available in three different flavors: Mexican chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, and cookies & cream. Collignon anticipates launching two more flavors, such as chocolate hazelnut and peanut butter chocolate following the Kickstarter funding period, which ends August 10. 

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