Craft beer may seem like it has hit its saturation point here on Earth, but a group of University of California, San Diego students has set its sights on a completely new market: the moon. Ten undergraduates from the Jacobs School of Engineering, going by the name Team Original Gravity, are finalists in a competition seeking experiments for a lunar launch scheduled later this year. If chosen, their small brewing project would be the first time beer has ever been brewed on the moon or in space.
The Lab2Moon competition is being held by TeamIndus, an Indian startup contracted through the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to launch a spacecraft to the moon this coming December. From an initial pool of 3,000 entries, Team Original Gravity’s brewing project is one of just 25 finalists. “The idea started out with a few laughs amongst a group of friends,” Neeki Ashari, one of the students involved, said according to UC San Diego. “We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits. When we heard that there was an opportunity to design an experiment that would go up on India’s moonlander, we thought we could combine our hobby with the competition by focusing on the viability of yeast in outer space.”
Because of the obvious constraints of sending a brewery to the moon, Team Original Gravity’s project is a highly simplified and condensed take on brewing beer. The unfermented “wort” would be prepared on Earth, leaving just the fermentation step to occur once the lander hits the surface of the moon. Additionally, carbonation would happen during this step as well to avoid the need to release any excess carbon dioxide (as usually happens during fermentation). All this would occur in a fermentation vessel about the size of a soda can – making it what the students believe would be one of the smallest beer fermenters ever.