Beer in Space

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 In the wake of NASA’s Drunks in Space scandal, New Scientist offers a short history of beer in space, not to mention wine:

In 1969, Buzz Aldrin took communion after landing on the Moon, sipping wine from a small chalice. In the Moon’s feeble gravity, he later wrote, the wine swirled like syrup around the cup.

beer1.jpgBut it ain’t all reverent blood-of-Christ swirling; in fact, when it comes to the brewskis, the swirling may not be at all reverent:

Beyond the challenge of producing beer in space is the problem of serving it, says Jonathan Clark, a former flight surgeon and now the space medicine liaison for the National Space Biomedical Research Institute in Houston, Texas, US. Without gravity, bubbles don’t rise, so “obviously the foam isn’t going to come to a head”, Clark told New Scientist. The answer, Dutch researchers suggested in 2000, is to store beer in a flexible membrane inside a barrel. Air can be pumped between the barrel and the membrane, forcing the beer out of a tap. Astronauts could then use straws to suck up blobs of beer (see Beer balls).

Unfortunately for thirsty astronauts, beer is poorly suited to space consumption because of the gas it includes. Without gravity to draw liquids to the bottoms of their stomachs, leaving gases at the top, astronauts tend to produce wet burps. “That’s one of the reasons why we don’t have carbonated beverages on the space menu,” NASA spokesperson William Jeffs told New Scientist.

Which is not something I needed to know — I have too-fond memories of “rations of gin” from The Martian Chronicles. My fantasy of space flight will always be a ’40s and ’50s fantasy, with cocktails and cigarettes the whole way. And who can forget that the Russians, who allowed consumption of liquor during their space program, also pioneered research into sex in space? Which Violet Blue, incidentally, provides a helpful guide to here, in case you ever find yourself liquored-up and ready to procreate with uniformed Russian space sluts.

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Photos from Wikipedia; left, wooden model of ancient Egyptian beermaking, from the Rosicrucian museum in San Jose.

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