If the human race ever makes it to Mars, the rigors of staying alive on a hostile planet with a poisonous atmosphere should keep astronauts pretty busy. But if Anheuser-Busch has its way, astronauts will be able to kill the little free time they have by drinking Budweiser.
On Friday, Anheuser-Busch, part of global brewing conglomerate ABInBev, released an un-ironic commercial declaring Budweiser's intent to colonize the next frontier: becoming the official beer of Mars. To get there, the beer brand has partnered with Elon Musk's SpaceX to supply the rocket and Space Tango, a Kentucky-based startup that makes "CubeLabs" that run automated experiments inside the International Space Station (ISS) laboratory.
The commercial is part of the ongoing "commitment" Anheuser-Busch made last Thanksgiving to develop the very first "micro-gravity" beer to drink on Mars. In December, the brand sent 3,500 barley seeds inside one of Space Tango's CubeLabs aboard a SpaceX re-supply rocket. Once it arrived at the ISS, the goal was to figure out how barley grows in a microgravity environment. In April, Anheuser-Busch sent a second batch to collect more data on seed germination in space.
In the ad, set to nostalgic footage of space missions past, retired NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson asks: "How is beer essential to the mission [to Mars]?" He responds, in earnest, with another, more seemingly existential question: "Well, what's the point in going to space if we don't bring ourselves?". (Ourselves, of course, being beer.)
"They [Anheuser-Busch] are balancing the line of doing unique scientific research to study the biology of germination while pushing the boundaries of leisure and recreation during space exploration," says Gentry Barnett, Space Tango's lab program manager.
According to Space Tango co-founder Kris Kimel, the germinated barley seeds from the April experiment are currently on their way back to Earth, and will eventually land in the ocean 200 miles off California, before being sent to Anheuser-Busch's agricultural headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado.
NASA did not respond to a request for comment about whether or not any astronauts have drunk beer, or any alcohol, in space.
Even if the Anheuser-Busch barley experiments are just a creative way to sell beer, it's not a bad move. Spark & Honey, an ad agency, found that 36 percent of Americans say they are more willing to buy a product tied to space in some way. Why not sell space beer?