NASA’s weekend collab with SpaceX sent two American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and focused international attention on a revived space race and the adding space tourism industry. However, while seeing what spring is like on Jupiter and Mars, one might want to drink the wine. Enter a new race, the drive to bring booze to space.
Historically, both NASA and Roscosmos officially prohibited alcohol—including alcoholic mouthwash—on missions. However, like teenagers with fake ID’s, the astronauts found a way to bring booze to orbit. Gordon Cooper smuggled a mini-bottle of Cutty Sark onto Gemini 9 and Buzz Aldrin snuck some wine to the moon for communion.
Soviet cosmonauts were notorious for hiding bottles of cognac behind panels, in space suits, and on resupply missions. When, the rest of Europe (led by France, of course) began visiting Mir, the cognac quality improved and the efforts to hide it ceased.
Now, public-private partnerships in the sector are preparing to lift alcoholic beverages in orbit to an even higher level.
Bubbles In Space
If space tourists are going to shell out millions to visit the stars, they probably will want a drink while they’re up there. That’s what inspired one of Champagne’s old houses to create Mumm Cordon Stellar.
The champagne, itself, is just Mumm, but the special bottle required to “pour” a carbonated liquid in a zero gravity environment is, well, space age technology.
Created jointly with space design agency Spade, the roughly 350ml bottle “uses the champagne’s gas to expel the liquid into a ring-shaped frame, where it is concentrated into a droplet of bubbles” according to the house. The hole affair complies with AOC regs; so, we’re not talking about some pedestrian “sparkling white wine,” but true champagne.
After the cork is popped (yes, there is a cork to pop), the champagne takes the form of some foamy blobs. The new form creates more of a wine forward, less fizzy drink.
The blobs themselves are intended to consumed on specially designed space coupes. Drinkers are instructed to use the tiny (5cm diameter) vessels to catch the floating blobs which adhere because of science—surface tension specifically.
Also, the whole affair was tested in a zero g plane by Usain Bolt—which is awesome.
Space Aged Wine
Do you ever find it hard to resist the temptation to open a bottle of wine set aside for aging? Well, the astronauts aboard the ISS feel your pain.
In November, the station’s crew took receipt of a case of Bordeaux, but only to a arrived at the ISS, but the astronauts will not be able to drink any of it. The 12 bottles are onboard the Station strictly for aging—no drinking allowed.
The bottles are part of an experiment helmed by Space Cargo Unlimited, a private startup. A joint team from the University of Bordeaux in France and the Friedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany will compare the space-aged bottles against a terra-bound control group.
Big Beer Brewing On Mars
Budweiser parent AB InBev dominates the brew business on Earth, but Mars is a different story. And, the sultan of suds is not taking any chance about losing market share on the red planet. Three years ago, Budweiser announced their intention to open the first brewery on Mars.
“Budweiser is always pushing the boundaries of innovation and we are inspired by the collective American Dream to get to Mars,” said Ricardo Marques, VP, Budweiser. “We are excited to begin our research to brew beer for the red planet.”
Marketing schemes aside, the company is actually putting some work and money towards the effort. In late 2017, the company sent 20 barley seeds to the ISS onboard SpaceX CRS-13. Packaged in two TangoCubes, a modular system designed to conduct research in microgravity, the seeds spent 30 days in orbit and then were compared with earth seeds. Bud followed up by conducting a similar study on barley germination in space.
No time frame for the brewery has been revealed, but then again, humanity needs to reach Mars first.