Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pub Crawl


Or rather, pub launch? Last summer, I blogged about a Spanish study that showed how Beer is Good For Bones, given its silicon and phytoestrogens content, and related this interesting finding to the Japanese beer brewed from barley grown in micro-gravity on the ISS, as well as NASA's carbonation and fermentation experiments on Space Shuttles.

This week, TIME Magazine and Discovery News reports that Astronauts4Hire, a non-profit space engineering company "which appears to be priming itself to be a major player in the future commercial space flight industry," will taste-test beer on parabolic flights, all the while monitoring human heart rate, blood alcohol content and body temperature during a simulation of imbibing in weightlessness.

Beer In Space?
The hops-flavored beverage made from malted grain is the Earth's oldest and still currently the most widely consumed alcoholic drink, said to be the third most popular beverage in the world after water and tea.

The Australian 4-Pines Brewing Company joined forces with Saber Astronautics Australia, to develop a special brew for the flights, set to take off in November. The Zero Gravity Corporation will provide the Boeing Jet for the trip.

This will be an exciting step for Astronauts4Hire and their sponsors, being the first paying job for their esteemed researchers and aspiring-astronauts; and it's probably not a coincidence that they are tackling a subject that is largely off-limits for the national space agency. NASA has always had a no-alcohol policy, part of what some people have come to see as a "no-reality policy" in terms of certain types of taboo research. Flying seeds for production back on earth is one thing, but genuinely carrying and testing alcohol on board a space flight? Questions about sexuality during long term missions? Boozing'n'schmoozing in micro-gravity? Not on the tax-payer dime.

If we as a species want to branch out into what these scenarios mean in space, it is the private industries that will attempt them, not the government entity.

Too bad they couldn't have scraped all this together in time for Oktoberfest! And wouldn't it be a real hoot if they continue to discover that beer is better for bones than exercise! Time will tell.