You Can Drink Champagne in Space—Yes, Really

“Our whole experience revolves around the magic fact that liquid floats and forms shapes and bubbles,” he said. “We wanted to make a bottle of capable of producing these drops, and a glass to catch it and bring it to your lips.”

It sounds easy, but DeGaulle said he and his team spent several years designing a bottle that would work in a weightless environment and wouldn’t coat the inside of the space capsule with pungent champagne. On Earth, the release of carbon dioxide gas under pressure causes the cork to pop, and for liquid to froth from the bottle. In space, you’d still gently pop the cork with a bit of pressure, but in DeGaulle’s bottle, just a tiny amount gas escapes and none of the champagne itself.

Mumm

A small internal piston controlled by a button on the bottom of the bottle allows you to control how much gas is released, along with the champagne. This unusual internal pressure-release valve took several years to design, and has already undergone one previous zero-g test flight. (They brought up 15 different nozzles made with a 3-D printer before they found one that would work.) The solution was small metal ring attached to the top of the bottle that collects the floating champagne like a kids’ bubble wand. But to get the bubbles into the mouth, the designers had to create a space cup. What they came up with is more like a kids soap bubble wand than an elegant crystal flute. The new Mumm space glasses have a tiny cup to catch the precious floating droplets, but no stem on the bottom. Imagine trying to drink from a hollowed-out magnifying glass while you trap blobs of floating champagne bubbles, all while floating in zero-g.

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“The whole thing of trying to make a bubble, serving it, capturing it, becomes a thrilling experience,” DeGaulle said.

Mumm says it is talking with private space companies about serving its new Grand Cordon Stellar Champagne on sub-orbital flights that may be launching in the coming years. Which might be an easier-to-swallow proposition than getting the bottles into outer-space: because of the piston-mechanism, the 375 centiliter bottles (half a regular-sized bottle) weighs a hefty four and a half pounds and cost $40,000 to get into orbit.

Still, one French astronaut says he could see a place for champagne for the space workers spending months or years in a long-duration mission. “Astronauts are operators of complex machines in complex environments,” said Jean-Francois Clervoy, a French astronaut who flew three times in the 1990s, including the Hubble telescope repair mission. During one such mission, Clervoy, who is now working for both CNES and the zero-g flight company, remembers that Russian cosmonauts often got special packages for Christmas or birthdays that were sent aboard a cargo resupply mission along with fresh veggies.

“On my second flight on Mir,” Clervoy remembers, “we drank half a liter of cognac over five days.”

Teetotaling NASA administrators seem unlikely to abandon the agency’s ban on booze in space anytime soon. But Mumm hopes the new commercial space industry might be open to allowing space tourists celebrate in orbit, just as engineers do in the control room.

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