This Study Hopes to Determine Whether We Can Brew Beer on the Moon

Shotgunning beers and eating moon-yeast pizza might be part of everyday life for those who live on humanity’s first interplanetary outpost.
January 23, 2017, 4:00pm

In space, no one can hear you burp.

OK, we're not exactly sure if that's true, but we should be able to find out soon enough.

That's if a team of UC San Diego engineering students wins the Lab2Moon competition and get to launch their yeast into space as part of the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge that is calling on spaceflight teams to land a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon.

So what does this have to do with burps? Well, the experiment proposed by the UC San Diego team is one that would test the "viability" of yeast on the moon and hopefully result in "a freshly brewed batch of beer," according to a UC San Diego press release.


The engineering students behind this, who gave themselves the very nerdy team name of "Team Original Gravity," is hoping that their proposed experiment will also have big implications for pharmaceuticals and yeast-containing foods, like pizza.

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If this sounds like it started off as a dorm-room joke, it's because it kind of was. "The idea started out with a few laughs amongst a group of friends," said Neeki Ashari, the team's PR & Operations Lead, said in the press release.

"We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits," he added. "When we heard that there was an opportunity to design an experiment that would go up on India's moonlander, we thought we could combine our hobby with the competition by focusing on the viability of yeast in outer space."

So how does one brew beer space beer? Not surprisingly, the process is a little different than it is for terrestrial breweries, who typically separate the carbonation and fermentation. By combining the two methods, no CO2 is accumulated and thus does away with sanitation and over-pressurization issues.

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Siddhesh Naik, who works for TeamIndus, the company that is building the lunar spacecraft that will be used said that even among finalists, the beer project stands out.

"The yeast study is among the coolest experiments to be performed on the lunar surface, and I am sure they are one of the top contenders to win the Lab2Moon competition. Original Gravity is one of the most hardworking teams and very dedicated to their project."

Original Gravity also hope to brew beer in a fermentation vessel "the size of a soda can," which means that shotgunning beers and eating moon-yeast pizza might be part of everyday life for those who live on humanity's first interplanetary outpost—that, and space burps.