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.
"Space Cargo Unlimited will investigate how space radiation and microgravity affect wine components during the aging process," the company said in a statement.
"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 (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace