On Tuesday, the International Space Station said goodbye to the 12 bottles of French Bordeaux wine and hundreds of vines that spent a year orbiting the Earth in a scientific experiment.
The cargo arrives in EarthX Dragon’s shipping capsule on Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa. It was originally targeted at the Atlantic Ocean, but due to bad weather, the landing location was changed to the other side of Florida. SpaceX’s transport ships had previously parachuted into the Pacific Ocean.
Along with carefully packaged wines and vines, other cargoes from other experiments were set off from the space station. The bottles were placed in steel cylinders to protect them from breakage. The wines were sent into space in sealed bottles by Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup, as they wanted to mature them there for a year.
One or two of the returning bottles will be opened in February, when a wine tasting will be held in Bordeaux for invited prestigious French experts to taste the extraterrestrial wine with them.
Researchers are wondering how space changed the settling of wine and how it affected its maturation.
Nicolas Gaume, the company’s co-founding director, said the primary goal of the experiment was to enrich knowledge in agricultural science. The Bordeaux businessman added that the aim of their business is to find solutions for the agriculture of the future, to produce organic and healthy food and they think the key to this is in space.
Gaume stressed that due to climate change, agricultural crops, including grapes, must get used to harsher conditions. Vines exposed to weightlessness, Gaume says, will be stronger and more resilient on Earth. In addition, thanks to the successful experiment, in the future, when humans already discover the Moon or Mars, they will be able to enjoy such pleasures of the Earth.
As a Frenchman, I consider good food and good wine to be a part of life
The experiments were funded by private investors, but Gaume did not talk about the costs.
The wine shipment arrived at the space station in November 2019.
NASA has previously opened the space station to these types of business opportunities and occasionally allows for private space missions.
Earlier, Budweiser sent barley seeds to the station, already thinking that the first settlers would drink their beer on Mars as well. And in 2015, a Japanese alcohol producer sent whiskey and other drinks into space to test the samples, and Scotch was already in space as part of another experiment.
This was not the first space experiment with wines either: a French astronaut took a bottle aboard the Discovery in 1985.
Article and cover image: AFP
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