A champagne specifically developed for the microgravity environment of outer space has found its ride into Earth orbit.
Maison Mumm, one of the world's largest champagne producers, has partnered with the human spaceflight company Axiom Space to launch Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar, the "first champagne bottle and tasting experience designed for space travel." The bubbly will fly on Axiom crewed missions beginning in 2023 and ultimately will be available on the company's future commercial space station.
"Axiom's collaboration with Mumm and the Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar recognizes that, to bring humanity to space we can't just bring humans, we need to bring human traditions," said Michael Suffredini, president and CEO of Axiom Space, in a statement. "This philosophy of celebrating humankind empowers our goal for Axiom Station, a next generation destination that will serve as a thriving home in space to enable a diverse economy, further exploration and enable more of humanity to access space."
In development since 2017 and first announced a year later, Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar is now in full compliance with the requirements for spaceflight as certified by the French space agency CNES (Centre National d'Études Spatiales, or National Center for Space Studies) and also respects AOC Champagne regulations, certifying the integrity of the wine.
"Innovation has been part of Maison Mumm's identity since 1827, and Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar is a perfect illustration of this," said César Giron, president of Maison Mumm. "This project brings together the French savoir-faire of excellence for the benefit of conviviality that is so dear to us here on Earth."
"As early as 1904, Mumm was present on board with commander Jean-Baptiste Charcot to celebrate the first successful French expedition to Antarctica. Tomorrow, it will accompany the life of the pioneers of the 21st century in the same way in this new territory that is space," said Giron.
Ensuring that it is both safe to fly and that its contents are preserved, Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar comes in a half glass bottle that is held in a shell made of aeronautical-grade aluminum and is secured by a stainless steel opening and closing device. The upper part of the bottle, known as the "service," is composed of a long neck topped by a cork and a ring — the latter retaining the cork while also serving as a lock for the bottle's stainless steel mechanism.
Beyond the bottle, Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar has also been made to account for the differences in the conditions when tasting champagne in space. Bubbles do not rise to the surface in microgravity, so they do not release the aroma molecules that contribute to the wine's taste.
Instead, Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar is dispensed as a foam, which then coats the walls of the mouth. A specific blend of Pinot Noir — Mumm's signature grape variety — with reserve wines from the past five years delivers notes of ripe yellow fruit and vine peach, but also dried fruit, hazelnut and praline.
"My goal was to retain the freshness and power of Mumm Cordon Rouge, and to enhance the intensity of its aromas with more aging and a dosage liqueur made with wines aged in oak barrels," said cellar master Laurent Fresnet.
Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar has been flown on a parabolic "zero-gravity" flight, but to finalize its development, it will be launched on an upcoming Axiom Space mission. The Houston-based company recently signed an order with NASA for its second private astronaut mission (Ax-2) to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2023.
Axiom has also in the last week signed agreements with Türkiye, the Canadian Space Agency and Saudi Space Commission to fly astronauts on future missions.
"In space, it is essential to maintain a link with Earth and its culture. As a symbol of the art of living that has endured through time, champagne has this universal appeal," said Jean-François Clervoy, a French astronaut with the European Space Agency who collaborated on the creation of Mumm Cordon Rouge Stellar.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.