Yes, you read that right. Even with the absence of gravity, researchers at NASA say that it’s possible to make wine in space sometime in the near future with the right technology at hand.
In fact, NASA isn’t alone in the quest to answer this question. Their counterparts (read rivals) China had in fact sent up carbernet sauvignon, merlot and pinot noir vines into space sometime last year to see how they fared in microgravity.
Speaking to Gizmodo, scientist Gioia Massa who works as part of NASA’s vegetable production system at the International Space Station (ISS), said:
“Wine grapes would be an interesting challenge. We have been working with some dwarf fruit trees that the USDA developed, and I have heard that they also have some dwarf grape vines, so if the plants were small enough or could be trained around, for example, lights, it would certainly be possible to grow them.
Most plants for space are super compact, but if you had vines that you could coil or clip a larger plant might be an option. Getting light to a sprawling vine is definitely a challenge – you would want very compact varieties.”
Though NASA isn’t currently pressed into growing wine vines in space, the agency does have experience at growing plants in small chambers aboard the ISS, so Massa’s ‘Veggie team’ definitely knows about growing things in tight areas.
While the tight, cramped spaces aboard the ISS will make the actual process to make wine in space a huge challenge, the incredibly resilient nature of vines as a plant does mean it is somewhat possible to do so.
Massa further added that next year, NASA will embark in experiments to pollinate dwarf tomatoes by hand on the ISS – a process that could be applied to space vines. Additionally, she also added that a microbial bioreactor could be developed that would allow the fermentation and other processes to occur in microgravity.
And despite the seemingly gargantuan effort it might take – even with the right technology –to make wine in space, there is one huge upside to it all: growing grapes in the sterile conditions of space would allow the vines to avoid exposure from vine diseases or bugs like phylloxera.
Given that mankind has honed and crafted the art of making wine and spirits over hundreds of years, it seems unlikely that this, or even the consumption of its resulting products, will end anytime soon. Space truly is the final frontier, even for booze!
(main image source: NASA)
About Editor 2.0
An avid boozer and word-stringer who's paid to drink and write for the revamped Boozeat Blog 2.0
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