International Space Station Bids Goodbye To 12 Bottles of French Wine

Pablo Tucker
January 13, 2021

It was the idea of Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg start-up to put the wine in space and allow it to age for up to an entire year.

The wine hitched a ride to the space station in November 2019 aboard a Northrop Grumman supply ship.

With climate changes, Gaume says, the grapes will have to adapt to harsher conditions and the one-year experiment will show how weightlessness affects the plant.

As an added benefit, he also notes that being able to survive agricultural produce in space means Mars and moon explorers may have a taste of the pleasures we enjoy on Earth while they are on their journey.

Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to bring what has been observed by stimulating the plants in a gravity-free environment through a sequence of space tests to transform them into more robust and efficient plants on Earth.

None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February - when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world wine tasting in Bordeaux by some of France's top connoisseurs and experts.

Months of chemical testing will follow - with scientists eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles in the drink.

SCU and partner institutions CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Scientifiques, Toulouse), ISVV (Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin, Bordeaux), and ESA (European Space Agency) will assess the biological mutations that have taken place in the canes exposed to these conditions, comparing them to samples that have remained on planet Earth. However, he acknowledges that tasting the wine is going to be enjoyable. He'll be among the lucky few taking a sip.

Will The Bottle Wines Break Upon Its Splashdown?

Each bottle was carefully packed inside a steel cylinder to prevent any breakage. The program will deepen the research on key elements such as yeast, bacteria, crystals, colloids and polyphenols, to ascertain how the taste and chemical composition of wine are affected during the aging process. The 320 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vine snippets, called canes in the grape-growing business, were launched by SpaceX last March.

So far, only SpaceX is the shipper that is capable of returning items from space back to Earth fully intact.

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