Jan 12, 2021 - Science

Orbital wine comes back to Earth

Photo: NASA

Photo: NASA

Twelve bottles of red wine are making their way back to Earth after spending more than a year aboard the International Space Station.

Why it matters: The wine is more than just a frivolous novelty. The researchers behind the wine experiments — which also involved sending grape vines to the station — are hoping to learn more about how plants respond to stress, with an eye toward how they might behave on a warmer Earth in the future.

How it works: The wine and grape vines will arrive back on Earth aboard a SpaceX cargo craft when it splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida tonight.

  • From there, the experiments will be transported to Bordeaux at the end of the month, where scientists will analyze the vines to see how they stood up to the space environment.

What's next: Space Cargo Unlimited, the startup that sent these experiments to space, "anticipates the plants growing in space will be more resilient to other kinds of lesser stress (increased salt level in the soils, etc.), and may unlock the potential of varieties better suited to a warmer Earth with less drinkable water," the company said in a statement.

  • The wine sent to space will be tasted during a private event in February.
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