Aussie scientists develop beer for space tourists

Researchers at Sydney space engineering firm Saber Astronautics have teamed up with 4-Pines brewery to develop a beer suitable for consumption in space. Photo / Thinkstock
Researchers at Sydney space engineering firm Saber Astronautics have teamed up with 4-Pines brewery to develop a beer suitable for consumption in space. Photo / Thinkstock

When you've paid $200,000 for a seat on a galactic flight, the last thing you want is to be served a dud beer.

But space tourists of the future fear not: a series of experiments have been conducted to test whether your coldie tastes as good in space as it does on Earth.

Researchers at Sydney space engineering firm Saber Astronautics have teamed up with 4-Pines brewery to develop a beer suitable for consumption in space.

Along with Queensland University of Technology's Dr Martin Castillo, who lectures in power generation, they've used a 23-metre high "drop tower" at QUT to test the effects of zero gravity on the world's first "space beer", known as Vostok 4 Pines Stout.

The tower was built specifically for testing materials in zero gravity.

To test the effect of gravity on the beer, samples were placed inside a 400kg metal capsule, winched to the top of the tower, then dropped.

During the freefall, the beer experienced about two seconds of weightlessness, says Dr Castillo, the tower's technical director.

"Zero gravity affects the taste of the beer and the bubbles, and the tests were about looking for the right carbonation levels, among other things," he said.

Each drop from the tower is equivalent to about two seconds of zero gravity time.

"It's a short duration, but very high quality," Saber Astronautics director Jason Held told AAP.

"The metal capsule inside the tower protected the sample from wind and other environmental effects during the test."

In February, the beer was taste-tested for the first time aboard a microgravity flight in Florida.

"Once in the air, the flight is like a roller-coaster, giving its passengers repeated 30-second shots of free fall," Dr Held said.

The microgravity expert who sampled the beer gave it the thumbs up.

"Carbonation level is good, so we're keeping the recipe as is," Dr Held added.

Dr Castillo said the beer is definitely for space tourists, not the flight crew.

"People who will pay their way into space will be able to enjoy a beer. As far as flight crews and safety personnel, I highly doubt they'll be drinking the beer," he says.

At least not while they are on the job.

- AAP

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