Twelve bottles of wine and 320 vine shoots arrived in Bordeaux, south-western France, on Monday night, after spending 14 and 10 months respectively on the International Space Station (ISS) for a scientific experiment.
After returning to Earth on January 13 aboard SpaceX’s private company Dragon cargo ship, the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon shoots and bottles were transported to Bordeaux, where they will be compared with the batches left ashore in the same storage conditions.
“The WISE mission is the first private applied research program that takes advantage of the space environment to respond to the challenges of future agriculture in a warmer Earth with less drinking water,” Co-founder Nicolas Gaume told AFP, along with Emmanuel Etcheparre of Space Cargo Unlimited, who started the project.
On the ISS, the wine bottles were kept in the same conditions as on Earth, except for gravity. “When the Earth’s environment is recreated in space as on the ISS, the only parameter that changes relative to Earth is near zero gravity. This exposes life on the ISS to immense stress,” explains Nicolas Gaume.
“Our approach is that the different plant elements that we expose to this spatial stress factor will develop more resilience” to other stresses, such as those linked to climate change, he emphasizes. “What we learn in the wine sector, we plan to develop it in other agricultural areas,” he adds.
The cost of this operation carried out in collaboration with the Bordeaux Institute of Vine and Wine Sciences (ISVV), the University of Erlangen (Germany) and the CNES (the French space agency) has not been disclosed.
A private tasting of the wine, the name of which has not yet been revealed, is scheduled for the end of February in Bordeaux.
In 1985 a bottle of wine had already been sent into space, but without any scientific interest. It was a small bottle of Lynch-Bages 1975, which owner Jean-Michel Cazes brought to former astronaut Patrick Baudry, who was aboard the shuttle Discovery in Houston.
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