Published: Sat, January 16, 2021
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French wine returns to Earth after a year in space

French wine returns to Earth after a year in space

The cargo with the "drink of the gods" and vine canes are part of an agricultural research program called Mission WISE (Vitis Vinum in Spatium Experimentia), administered by the European start-up Space Cargo Unlimited (SCU), based in Luxembourg, which sent the wine to be aged in space for twelve months.

To stop breakage, the 12 bottles were corked and tightly sealed into steel cylinders.

The SpaceX cargo Dragon spacecraft undocked Tuesday and is heading for the waters off Tampa carrying thousands of pounds of research materials and gear, including the case of French Bordeaux, hundreds of grapevines, mice and 3D-engineered heart tissues. 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.

It would follow months of chemical research.

Space Cargo Unlimited wanted the wine to age for an entire year in space to better understand how zero gravity environments change the taste and sedimentation.

In November 2019, the wine hitched a trip on a Northrop Grumman delivery ship to the space station.

Researchers from Space Cargo Unlimited prepare bottles of French red wine to be flown from Wallops Island Va. to the International Space Station on Nov. 2 2019

With climate change, Gaume said agricultural products like grapes will need to adapt to harsher conditions.

"Our goal is to tackle the solution of how we're going to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and able to feed humanity, and we think space has the key", Gaume said.

SpaceX is the sole shipper willing to return tests from the space station and other things intact.

"Being French, it's part of life to have some good food and good wine.", he adds.

Besides, Gaume said, with their space rations, potential moon or Mars explorers might like a little bit of Cabernet Sauvignon. The 320 Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vine snippets arrived at the space station later, in March 2020, aboard a SpaceX cargo spacecraft. He declined to provide the project's cost.

The Dragon cargo spacecraft transported over 4,400 pounds (1,995 kg) of important scientific experiments, as well as other cargo, from the ISS to Earth.


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