When five tons of space supplies arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, one of the deliveries was special indeed — a selection of five types of distilled spirits. But astronauts won’t be toasting one another with the booze, writes the AP’s Martha Dunn: the whiskey is intended for an experiment that might help drinkers down on Earth.
The five samples, which were provided by Japanese whiskey behemoth Suntory, will spend a year on the space station while identical samples are stored on Earth, writes Dunn. The experiment was designed to see if distilled alcohol acts the same in space — smoothing out in flavor as they age — as they do on the ground.
Gravity is the key variable in the experiment, writes Discovery News’ Ian O’Neill: Since distillers don’t really understand the chemical processes that mellow out whiskey and other beverages on Earth, they hope that learning more about gravity’s part in the mix will shed new light on the process overall. “New discoveries as to gravity’s contribution to the process could lead to invaluable spin-off technologies,” writes O’Neill.
So will astronauts be seen doing shots or enjoying a low-key cocktail hour and a spectacular view with the experiment’s leftovers? Nope: As Space.com’s Elizabeth Howell reports, the ISS is officially a “dry” facility.