Budweiser, thanks to SpaceX and a small Kentucky startup named Space Tango, will send its barley to the International Space Station to start experiments on beer-making in space, Anheuser Busch said in a statement.
Decades from now, when humans have colonized Mars, they will no doubt be thirsty. And Anheuser Busch, part of global brewing conglomerate ABInBev, wants to make sure that Budweiser will be available on the Red Planet. To stake out that turf, Space Tango, a Kentucky-based startup that helps companies run experiments aboard the International Space Station, will launch the first experiments on the brewer's barley seeds in Lower Earth Orbit, says Space Tango CEO Twyman Clements.
On December 4, a SpaceX rocket will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida to send supplies and research experiments to the International Space Station. The cargo will include 3,500 Budweiser barley seeds inside one of Space Tango's "CubeLabs," a mini payload that runs automated experiments and can fit inside the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory. Space Tango will run three different experiments on the seeds.
The project, which is dubbed the Germination of ABI Voyager Barley Seeds in Microgravity, will evaluate the effects of the spaceflight environment on dry seeds, germination, and initial growth phase of barley. Beer's basic ingredients include barley malt, hops, yeast and water.
Space Tango operates two commercial research facilities within the ISS U.S. National Lab and companies pay for Space Tango to develop payloads to run experiments in microgravity and collect and analyze data.
The barley seeds will orbit Earth inside the ISS for approximately 30 days. After the month-long experiment, the barley seeds will return to Earth and be analyzed by Budweiser's "innovation team," according to a statement from Anheuser Busch. The company hopes the experiments will be the fruitful beginnings of "the foundation and blueprint for Budweiser's next move in brewing the beer of the future," the company said.
Anheuser Busch hopes the experiments will show how barley seeds react while being exposed to the microgravity environment of space and how barley germination is effected by microgravity.
"Not only will the research offer insights on steps to creating beer on the Red Planet, but it could also provide valuable information on the production of barley and the larger agricultural community here on earth," Anheuser Busch said.
During the South by Southwest conference in March 2017, Budweiser unveiled the company's goal to be the first beer on Mars.
On Tuesday, an Anheuser Busch spokesperson confirmed that this project is not a joke--the company is taking the Mars beer project "very seriously" and the experiments will "start the process of understanding how we can create a microgravity beer."