A team of UC San Diego engineering students is hoping to answer the age-old question, “Can you brew beer on the moon?”
The students are finalists in a competition known as Lab2Moon, and the experiment will test the viability of yeast on the moon, data that could be important to developing certain kinds of medicine and food in space on longer missions.
Going by the name “Team Original Gravity,” this team is one of 25 teams selected to compete for a spot on a spacecraft set to launch at the end of 2017.
The mission takes a few liberties with the brewing process. All prep work and brewing of wort will be done before the spacecraft departs, with the yeast being added in zero-gravity. The plan will also combine fermentation and carbonation into one step, helping to prevent sanitation and safety issues of releasing accumulated CO2. The yeast will be fermented using pressure rather than density, since density uses gravity as its base.
The lunar brewery, according to the University of California’s website, is roughly the size of a soda can and is based on traditional fermenters. “It contains three compartments,” explains Original Gravity’s mechanical lead, Srivaths Kaylan. “The top will be filled with unfermented beer, and the second will contain the yeast. When the rover lands on the moon with our experiment, a valve will open between the two compartments, allowing the two to mix.”
The team has gotten the attention of the beer community and is sponsored by Omega Yeast Labs.