The International Space Station on Tuesday bid farewell to 12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and hundreds of extracts of vines that spent a year in orbit around the world in the name of science.
Wine and vines – and thousands of pounds of other equipment and research, including mice – are sprayed aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the Tampa coast.
The bottles of French wine ̵
None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February. That’s when Space Cargo Unlimited, the company behind the experiments, opens a bottle or two for a tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s best connoisseurs. Months chemical test follows. Scientists are eager to see how space changed sedimentation and bubbles.
Agricultural science was the primary goal, said Nicolas Gaume, the company’s CEO and co-founder, though he admits it will be fun to try the wine.
“Our goal is to tackle the solution of how to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and capable of feeding humanity, and we believe that space holds the key,” said Gaume from Bordeaux.
With climate change, Gaume said agricultural products such as grapes will have to adapt to tougher conditions. Through a series of space experiments, Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to gain experience in emphasizing the plants in weightlessness and translating it into more robust and resilient plants on Earth.
There is another benefit. Gaume expects future explorers to the moon, and Mars would like to enjoy some of Earth’s pleasures. “Being French is a part of life, having good food and good wine,” he told the Associated Press.
Gaume said private investors helped fund the experiments. He refused to give the project costs.
The wine drove a trip to the space station in November 2019 aboard a Northrop Grumman supply ship. The 320 merlot and cabernet sauvignon vines, called sugar cane in grape growing, were launched by SpaceX in March last year.