Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Space, No One Can Hear You Burp

Space beer ready for testing:
It's probably no surprise that today's astronauts are discouraged from drinking on the job. Space tourists, however, may have different expectations.

Enter Australia's 4 Pines Brewing Company, which this Saturday will be conducting human experiments in Florida—taste testing space beer. (Related: "'Global Warming Beer' Taps Melted Arctic Ice.")

According to ABC Melbourne, the brewery has made its first batch of suds designed to be drunk on commercial space flights.
Great, a beer for space! But it turns out, drinking in space isn't as easy as drinking on earth...
One of the enduring problems with eating or drinking in space is related to what's called space adaptation syndrome.

In orbit, the fluids in your body are no longer being pushed by gravity into your lower half. But your body is still trying to pump things around as if you were standing on Earth.

This leads to excess fluids in the upper body and head, which in turn causes nausea, vomiting, and swelling.
OK, maybe I'll stay on the ground.
At the same time, brewers made the space beer less carbonated than Earth beer, to counteract so-called wet burps.

"On Earth when you burp, due to the gravity that's acting on your stomach, the gas and the liquid separate," Mitchell said.

"However, in space ... the gas and the liquid can both come up during a burp."
If possible, they just made drinking beer in space even less appealing. But they understood the problem years ago:
Of course, NASA was evaluating the challenges of bringing bubbly beverages to space long before the days of Virgin Galactic.

Space shuttle experiments conducted almost a decade ago brewed a small amount of beer in space and tested a device for dispensing carbonated drinks in zero-G.
I'm so glad NASA was looking forward.

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