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Red, Red Wine Launches to Space Station for Science

A startup called Space Cargo Unlimited has sent red wine to the International Space Station.
A startup called Space Cargo Unlimited has sent red wine to the International Space Station. (Image credit: Mission WISE)

Fancy some space wine? A European startup recently launched some of the red stuff to the International Space Station to age in space for 12 months.

It's less a tasting test than a true science experiment, as there's very little research on wine making in space — a complex process that involves yeast and bacteria. 

Wine creators don't know yet how the taste and the composition of wine changes while aging in the weightless environment that astronauts and everything else on the space station experience.

Related: Forget Space Beer, Order Meteorite Wine Instead 

"Space Cargo Unlimited will investigate how space radiation and microgravity affect wine components during the aging process," the company said in a statement.

Researchers pack up a bottle of wine to ship to the International Space Station.  (Image credit: Mission WISE)

"This could yield results that help in understanding taste enhancement and food conservation. In this approach, Space Cargo Unlimited is following in the footsteps of Louis Pasteur, a founding father of modern biology, who, while studying wine in the 19th century, discovered the existence of bacteria and how to maximize the role of yeast."

The wine (12 bottles of it) launched onboard a Northrop Grumman Cygnus spacecraft from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Virginia, on Saturday (Nov. 2). It's the first part of six experiments that Mission WISE (a Latin acronym that means, roughly, in English, "Grape wine in the distance experiment") will do in the next 26 months. 

The mission will also examine plants in space to see how they adapt to changes in temperature, salt and pathogens. The findings could help researchers get plants to resist harsher environments on Earth as the warming planet changes growing conditions.

"We intend to pave the way to our future by helping to invent the agriculture and food we need for tomorrow," said Nicolas Gaume, co-founder and CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited, in the statement.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.