Space Beer Headed for Zero Gravity Bar

Now Boarding: Zero G Flights for the Public
The airborne roller coaster is a specially modified 727. (Image credit: Zero Gravity Corp)

It may notcome in time for Oktoberfest, but the world's first beer to be certified forconsumption in space will soon undergo tests in weightlessness to see if it isbrewed with the right stuff.

Astronauts4Hire,a non-profit space research corporation, will conduct the tests on anAustralian beer that has been brewed specifically for easy drinking in both microgravity environments, as well as here on Earth.

The beer wasproduced as a joint venture between Saber Astronautics Australia, a new spaceengineering firm, and the Australian 4 Pines Brewing Company, located in Manly,a suburb of northern Sydney.

Thedevelopment of space beer is intended to coincide with the burgeoning spacetourism industry, and as the market expands, industry leaders areanticipating a demand for such products.

So how doyou test space beer without a rocket? Drink it, of course.

Testing forthe new space beer is set to begin in November on board Zero GravityCorporation's modified Boeing aircraft, which flies a seriesof parabolic arcs that simulate environments of weightlessness.

AnAstronauts4Hire flight member will act as the primary flight operator. Theresearcher will perform various experiments ? such as sample the beer duringweightless parabolas ? and record biometric data on body temperature, heartrate and blood alcohol content.

Data willalso be collected on the taste of the beverage and its drinkability duringweightlessness.

This will bethe first in a series of similar test flights that will be required to qualifythe brew for consumption in space. The project is funded in part by 4 PinesBrewing Company's sales on Earth.

This isn'tthe first time that beer and space have met.

In 2006, theJapanese brewery Sapporo teamed up with Okayama University in Okayama, Japan,and the Russian Academy of Sciences, headquartered in Moscow, to create aspecial brand of limited space beer.

The brew, calledSpace Barley, was prepared using barley grown from seeds that had flown forfive months on the International Space Station.

In the past,NASA has also sponsored studies on space beer, and whether or not the popularbeverage can be brewed in space. Under current policies, however, alcoholremains forbidden on the International Space Station.

One study,done in conjunction with the University of Colorado, found some puzzlingresults about how yeast ferments in microgravity environments. The researchers,who announced their findings in 2001, discovered that yeast fermented withgreater efficiency in their sample of space beer, making it more alcoholic.

Otherstudies have examined the type of container that would be needed to maintainthe drink's carbonation in spite of the extreme pressure and temperature changes that accompany a ride into space.

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Denise Chow
NBC News science writer

Denise Chow is a former staff writer who then worked as assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. She spent two years with, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions, before joining the Live Science team in 2013. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University. At NBC News, Denise covers general science and climate change.