Cheers! French wine and vines head home after year in space

James Marshall
January 13, 2021

In this black and white infrared image, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The wine's been aging on the Space Station for about 14 months after being shipped up as part of a Luxembourg-based startup's experiment.

The carefully packed wine - each bottle nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage - remained corked aboard the orbiting lab - none for the astronauts to try.

A SpaceX spacecraft would carry a case of Bordeaux wine back to Earth when it arrives this week.

They are part of a wider load of freight containing 320 snippets of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines sent into space in March and some rats. "On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Dragon will conduct a deorbit burn at 7:37 begin its re-entry sequence into Earth's atmosphere", said NASA, in a blog post.

"Our goal is to address the solution to how to have tomorrow's agriculture that is organic, healthy and able to feed humanity", said Nicholas Gaum, co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited.

None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February. By the time that the wine bottles are ready, the company will open a bottle or two for the first-ever inter-galactic wine tasting in Bordeaux where some of France's top connoisseurs and experts will be there to take part and witness the event.

With climate changes, Gaume says, the grapes will have to adapt to harsher conditions and the one-year experiment will show how weightlessness affects the plant. Researchers are keen to see if sedimentation and bubbles have altered space.

Besides, Gaume added that future Moon or Mars explorers might want a little Cabernet Sauvignon with their space stakes.

With this, the International Space Station bids goodbye to a French wine that was literally stored from beyond any country.

Gaume said private investors helped fund the experiments. According to Mr. Gaume it was through their efforts that a cutting-edge discovery for the wine industry has been made. He declined to provide the project's cost.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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