Weightless, Not Stirred

A Kickstarter campaign for a martini glass that works in microgravity.

space martini glass.jpg

In space, no one can hear you sip.

Actually, in a pressurized environment they can hear you just fine. It’s just that sipping isn’t terribly effective.

Predicting the behavior of fluids in weightlessness is a sucker’s game, har-har. That’s why astronauts drink from sealed bags through straws. That greatly reduces the appeal of “comfort beverages” like coffee, tea, and cocktails, which stimulate our olfactory senses as well as our taste buds. As long as going to space means forsaking pleasures that our ancestors have enjoyed since whenever the cup was invented, it’ll never catch on as a place where people go to burn up their disposable income.

Or so goes the thinking of a gang of four high-powered upstarts—a Hollywood prop maker, a robot (and toy) builder, a TV celebrity bartender, and a self styled space tourism expert—who have pooled their intellectual capital to form the Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation, which aspires to make the infinite, cold, dark void a bit more homey. The group has initiated a Kickstarter campaign for the initial $30,000 they say they need for their first endeavor, the Zero Gravity Cocktail Project—“a fluid dynamics and lifestyle experience design experiment,” in the parlance of their funding page.

The prototype cocktail glass that Chief Operating Officer Samuel Coniglio has designed uses a system of grooves to guide the fluid toward the drinker’s mouth. While the Kickstarter page features photos of a few variants—and a video of one of them being tested during a parabolic flight—all of them appear to be far more intricate than the teardrop-shaped vessel astronaut Don Pettit made so that he and his fellows aboard the International Space Station could enjoy coffee together. (Pettit shares a patent on the zero-G coffee cup with physicist Mark Weislogel and mathematicians Paul Concus and Robert Finns.) Pettit found drinking from a straw to be a dehumanizing exercise: “It makes you feel like you’re a big insect sucking the juices from another insect,” he says in this video.

The Cosmic Lifestyle Corporation’s video to promote their kickstarter campaign uses clips from Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey—wherein we see advertisements for Pan Am’s shuttle ferrying pleasure-seekers from Earth to an orbital Hilton—to illustrate its broader mission of making space tourism seem achievable.

“The glass is a stepping stone to show that, hey, these things are possible,” Coniglio says. The project’s funding page prescribes a three-stage fundraising plan, the final stage of which would be a $150,000 target, to pay for a cup to be 3D-printed aboard the space station using Made In Space’s Additive Manufacturing Facility. The device was delivered to the station last September.

Coniglio is also the inventor of Cosmobot, a device styled to resemble 1950s rocket ship designs, that can mix three kinds of cocktails. He is offering an appearance by Cosmobot at your party to donors who pledge $300 to the campaign, alcohol not included.

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