KOPAVAL KAPA, Flag. (AP) – A dozen bottles of good French wine arrived at the space station on Monday, not for astronauts, but for science.
The red wine from Bordeaux will mature for a year there before returning to Earth. Researchers will study how weightlessness and cosmic radiation affect the aging process. The aim is to develop new flavors and properties for the food industry.
The bottles took off aboard the Northrop Grumman capsule, which launched from Virginia on Saturday and arrived at the International Space Station on Monday.
Universities in Bordeaux, France and Bavaria, Germany participate in the Space Cargo Unlimited experiment, launched in Luxembourg.
The wine aged in space will be compared to the wine from Bordeaux on Earth. What remains will go to those who helped pay for the research, according to a company spokesman.
This is the first of six space missions planned by the company over the next three years that affect the future of agriculture, given our changing world.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure," said Nicola Goome, CEO and co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited, in a statement.
NASA is opening the space station for more business opportunities like this, and possibly even private astronaut missions.
The Cygnus capsule, which retired to the space station on Monday, contains numerous commercial ventures. Also on board: a chocolate chip cookie oven and carbon fiber samples used by the Italian Lamborghini in their sports cars.
Budweiser has already sent seeds from barley to the station, with a view to becoming a beverage of choice for Mars. In 2015, a Japanese company known for its whiskey and other alcoholic beverages sent samples. Scotch also made a trip to space in another experiment.
As for the high-flying wineries, this is not the first. A French astronaut brought a bottle of wine aboard the Discovery shuttle in 1985. The bottle was left in an orbital correction.
The current crew of the space station includes three Americans, two Russians and an Italian who may have preferred a good Chianti aboard.
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