Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Beer in Space: The Conspiracy Theory

Is that what you think it is?  Nope it's an outer space fermentation chamber.
After the initial amusement of reading the article about dudes putting Natty Light into space, my cynical side started poking through. My first burning question would be the validity of the statement “First Beer in Space”. Surely there have been other beers in space. As mentioned in my initial post I did a quick search and found some interesting stuff. Here goes.

The Facts:

Q: Is Natty Light the first beer in space?
A: No. An experiment conducted aboard a space shuttle actually fermented a beer in space.

Q: How high does an object have to travel before it reaches space?
A: Although there is no set definition for where Earth’s atmosphere ends and space begins, the commonly excepted limit is an elevation of 327,920ft equal to 62 miles. This is referred to as the Kármán Line.

Q: How high is weather balloon capable of traveling into the atmosphere?
A: According to the National Weather Service, a six foot wide helium filled weather balloon can reach an altitude of about 115,000ft.

Q: Can a weather balloon care a Natty Light can or any other object into “space”?
A: No based on the maximum altitude of 115,000ft.

Q: Was this a corporate gimmick with a factually incorrect title?
A: The magic eight ball and Jim say all signs point to yes

The Details:

The Real First Beer in Space was Coors! (Kind of)

Kirsten Sterrett returned to Colorado University to complete her master’s degree. The topic for her thesis involved fermentation and carbonation behavior in weightlessness. Her experiment was sponsored by Coors and was conducted on a NASA space shuttle mission. In the mission, a beer was fermented in the weightlessness of space. There is no indication of what style of beer, or the recipe composition used to make the space beer. Hopefully it was not a light lager! The fermentation processed turned out to be more efficient in space than it is on Earth. With a more efficient fermentation, the space beer had more alcohol content (higher ABV woo hoo) than the same beer brewed on earth.


All About Weather Balloons!

According to data available July, 13, 2006 weather balloons are released twice a day from a network of nearly 900 stations worldwide. They can achieve altitudes of 115,000ft and travel more than 125 miles from their release points. After the balloons pop a parachute lowers the balloon and attached instrumentation back to Earth. If you find an instrument package, known as a radiosonde, mail it back to the National Weather Service. Estimates show about 20% of the 75,000 radiosondes released per year are returned.


Space beer (Earth fermented) exists!

Two Australian companies, Saber Astronautics Australia and Four Pines Brewing Company, developed a beer designed specifically for consumption in space. Future space travelers have to worry about drinking carbonated drinks in fear of experiencing the dreaded wet burp. Liquid and CO2 do not separate in the stomach in a zero gravity environment. So when you burp, it’s not only CO2 coming out. Other than the dreaded wet burp, there are also taste problems associated with weightlessness. In the zero gravity the tongue swells and the senses dull over time. What style of beer could stand up to reduced sense of taste? A stout of course! The carbonation was reduced to aid the wet burp problem. The beer has been tested on a simulated zero gravity flight and got the thumbs up. The brew is called Vostok 4 Pines Stout and is available at $20.00 a sixer.


Job Opening: Captain of the Enterprise

Do you want fly in space and drink beer? It will only cost you $95,000 for a ticket. You think a mortgage company will go for that?

I promise never to discuss Natty Light again, sorry for the detour into big beer corporate asshatland.

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