The space industry has grown by leaps and bounds lately, as more and more private companies get into the act. New spaceports have been built all over the country, and NASA seems quite happy to work with private companies as space taxis to help get the astronauts into space after the shuttles are retired sometime in 2011. While spaceflight technology has been the focus for most companies, there are some businesses who have not forgotten the essentials. After all, what are you going to drink in space?
One option might just be zero gravity beer – the first beer certified for consumption in zero gravity is set for certification. Yes, you read that right. There is a beer being brewed that will be drinkable in microgravity. Of course, it will be perfectly palatable here on Earth, as well as in orbit, on the Moon or on Mars.
The gravity defying brew is being concocted by Astronauts4Hire.org, a nonprofit company for space research, and 4 Pines Brewing Company in Australia. The creation of this particular brew is supposed to concur with the space tourism boom. There does seem to be a lot more than goes into brewing a beer for weightless consumption than what goes into your standard craft beer.
For instance, the beer has to be tested in weightless (or near weightless) conditions. To do this, the developers will work with Zero Gravity Corporation, and use their modified airplane. The plane flies in parabolic arcs to help recreate the feeling of low gravity. A researcher will be aboard the plane, consuming beer during these flights.
The tests conducted will cover a range of different topics. Of course, the company is interested in how drinkable the beer will be while weightless, but there are other concerns, as well. Alcohol has never been consumed in space, so researchers are interested in determining what effect blood alcohol levels will have, as well as heart rate and body temperature in a weightless environment. Researchers will also document the taste of the beer in both weightless and regular environments.
Interestingly, this isn't the first foray into space beer. There have been several other projects, though none was quite the same. One study was actually conducted on brewing beer in space, and it was discovered that weightlessness made yeast more effective at metabolizing sugar – the beer was more alcoholic than it would have been on Earth.