Beer In Space!

By Editor In Chief/Lord Of Words Ed M Morris

Pictures by Ed M Morris

No beer at the KSC, maybe brewing equipment will be launched from here one day

A few weeks back, my family visited the Kennedy Space Center, and it was a great way to spend the day. At one point, after checking out every bit of the Space Shuttle Atlantis building, it was time for lunch.

Beer Truck To Space?

As we were eating in the Orbit Cafe (good food, decent pricing) I was wanting a beer, but none was to be found. Given where I was, I got to thinking about how we could brew and consume beer in space.

In my research I found two recent projects to create beer in space, one I was excited for and the other, not so much:

* Bud on Mars -  According to a Fox News piece,  Big Beer wants to be able to use a micro-gravity method to produce beer to be consumed on the red planet. To be direct, if I survive the trip to Mars, and there is only Budweiser to drink, I will get right back on the next mission to Earth.

* Brewery in a can - A group of Engineering students from University of California San Diego (UCSD) are developing a method to brew beer in space. Not beer that was brewed here on Earth and transported in containers designed to survive space travel, but actually brewed out of our atmosphere.

These students are completing the Google Lunar XPRIZE, a competition that challenges innovators around the world to develop low cost robots that can explore space. The UCSD team, named "Team Original Gravity" aims to have their experiment on the XPRIZE ship TeamIndus, which is scheduled to  launch on December 28, 2017.

The experiment is the size of a soda can divided into three sections. One section is sugared up liquid that will turn into beer, second section holds the yeast, and a third section has a separator for when the yeast is done doing it’s job. The method ferments using pressure, unlike planetbound brewers, who have to use density measurements. Density measurements rely on gravity, and there’s, well, no gravity in space. So a gravity free method was needed. Han Ling, the Team Leader said it wasn't too difficult to develop a new method “Converting the pressure buildup to fermentation progress is straightforward, as long as volume and original gravity, specific gravity before fermentation, hence our name, are known prior to the experiment” (Editor's note - makes sense to me).

So, if you couldn't tell, I am not all that impressed by Budweiser's Mars brewery idea, mostly because I am not a fan of any of their brands, and I hate the idea of seeing Bud logos and banners all over the Buzz Aldrin Memorial Mars Space Port near Gale Crater.  I think the team from UCSD is onto something I hope they do well in the XPRIZE competition. 

Ut spatia et celia!


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