March 24, 2021
July 10, 2020
(News Source: 7News)
This week, 12 bottles of fine French wine were blasted up to the International Space Station.
They flew aboard a Northrop Grumman capsule that launched from Virginia on Saturday and arrived at the orbiting lab on Monday.
But it's not to add a little spice to the rations enjoyed by the astronauts up there.
It's for research. Really.
The wine was sent up by Luxembourg start-up Space Cargo Unlimited.
It will be aged at the ISS for a year before it is sent back to the company.
Company officials say researchers will study how weightlessness and space radiation affects the ageing process.
Each bottle was packed in a metal canister to prevent breakage.
Vintage and vineyard have not been revealed.
As NASA explains, wine samples taken from the same batch will be stored here on earth and the results will be compared when the space station wine is returned.'
"Essential changes on the physics and chemical reactions of the multi-component liquid in microgravity are expected," a statement on the NASA website notes.
But it is not all about the wine.
"This knowledge has potential applications for enhancing the taste and smell of food products," NASA said.
"It also has potential applications for improved processes in medicine and agriculture."
Universities in Bordeaux, France, and Bavaria, Germany, are taking part in the experiment.
Winemaking uses both yeast and bacteria, and involves chemical processes, making wine ideal for space study, said University of Erlangen-Nuremberg's Michael Lebert, the experiment's scientific director, in a company video.
It's not the first batch of booze to head to the stars.
A French astronaut took a bottle of wine aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1985, although it was not opened while the craft was in orbit.
Budweiser has already sent barley seeds to the station, with an eye to becoming the beverage of choice on Mars.
In 2015, a Japanese company known for its whiskey and other alcoholic drinks sent up samples.
And scotch was used for another experiment.
The space station's current crew includes three Americans, two Russians and an Italian.
NASA is opening the space station to more business opportunities like this and, eventually, even private astronaut missions.