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Sending red wine into space can help sustain food

Behind the red wine project is the startup company called Space Cargo Unlimited. The unusual mission, where Space Cargo Unlimited works alongside other startups – Thales Alenia Space and Nanoracks, will age red wine in micro-gravity environment for a period of one year. After which time the wine will be shipped back to Earth for further analysis.

Wine production involves the incorporation of many elements, including yeast, bacteria, crystals, colloids and polyphenols, throughout the maturation process. The Space Cargo Unlimited project will examine the effects of space radiation and microgravity on wine components during the 12-month aging process. The process involves storing wine samples, chemically complex liquid, space station board, undertaking biochemical tests and comparing different samples with those stored in an aging facility. These are called Complex Studies of the Micro-Biological System (CommuBioS).

Food scientists hope that the study will provide data that could help understand taste enhancement and food preservation. This study is part of a larger project called Mission WISE (Vitis Vinum in room experiments), which is designed to work for 26 months.

Wine drinks pour wine into the glass to release its scent called a bouquet.

Wine drinks pour wine into the glass to release its scent, called a "bouquet."

Will Keithley (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Micro-gravity and radiation factors, which can change the way wine is aged, are also important for other parts of the Mission WISE consortium. This includes looking at how plants adapt to space conditions in terms of variations in temperature, salt and bacteria. These combined effects can cause plants to grow beyond their original innate capacity.

This process can help develop plants that grow to have stronger defenses. If these plants are grown on Earth, they can prove to be more robust against climate change. With the wine element there is an added bonus that this can help winemakers develop new flavors, nutrients and digestive properties for the food industry.

According to Nicholas Gaume, CEO of Space Cargo Unlimited: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Our common belief that there is no planet B. We intend to pave the way for our future by helping us to invent the agriculture and food we need for tomorrow. “

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