Anheuser-Busch has hired a Kentucky company to develop and manage experiments aboard the International Space Station next month to help it figure out how to someday put beer on Mars.
The world’s largest brewer announced earlier this year that it expects humans to someday colonize Mars, and it wants to be provide beer for them there. But first it must figure out how the microgravity of outer space affects beer’s ingredients and the brewing process.
The maker of Budweiser announced Tuesday that it has partnered with the Center for Advancement of Science in Space, which manages the $150 billion International Space Station, and Lexington-based Space Tango, one of a handful of companies that develop and handle scientific experiments there.
“Budweiser is always pushing the boundaries of innovation, and we are inspired by the collective American Dream to get to Mars,” Ricardo Marques, a Budweiser vice president, said in a news release. “We are excited to begin our research to brew beer for the red planet.”
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The first two experiments, which will travel to the station Dec. 4 aboard a rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, will test how barley seeds react to microgravity during a month of orbiting Earth.
“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’s news release said.
One experiment will focus on barley seed exposure, the other on seed germination. Both experiments will be conducted inside metal cubes and racks built by Space Tango.
Space Tango president Twyman Clements said they have no idea how microgravity might affect beer ingredients.
“That’s the interesting part,” he said. “Nobody’s tried it before. Our vision is for all kinds of industries to use microgravity for research and manufacturing.”
Clements, a University of Kentucky engineering graduate, helped start Space Tango as an outgrowth of Kentucky Space, a nonprofit project of Kentucky Science and Technology Corp.