This next phase of the ‘Bud on Mars’ program is a small step for beer, if not quite a giant leap for mankind.
In March 2017, when Budweiser proclaimed its intentions to be the first beer on Mars, the announcement could have easily been dismissed as just another marketing stunt, a forward-looking contrast to Bud Light’s medieval-set "Dilly Dilly" campaign, even. But despite the fact that, no, Budweiser will not be arriving on Mars anytime soon, Bud has continued to prove that, though the campaign does have a significant marketing angle, it is not simply a stunt.
This week, the beer brand has announced that it plans to conduct its third experiment on the International Space Station as part of a SpaceX launch scheduled for this coming Tuesday, December 4. Coincidentally enough, on that date exactly one year ago, Budweiser sent its first two Bud on Mars experiments to the ISS, also via a SpaceX launch. Those endeavors looked at how a microgravity environment affected barley seedlings, both in general and with regards to germination. Of course, as any beer expert can tell you, once barley is grown, you have to malt it before it can be used to brew beer, so this latest experiment takes the barley journey one step further.
"Budweiser will send its third experiment to the ISS National Lab, this time examining strains of barley seeds as they go through the processes of steeping (rapid hydration), germination, and kilning (drying) associated with malting barley," explained the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, which has partnered with Bud for these projects. "Results from this research could help the company develop new malt barley varieties that are more tolerant to extreme stress environments and could also provide valuable insight for the general agricultural community."
That being said, it’s not like casual beer drinkers are really going to get that excited about the incremental step to a kilning experiment. The "one giant leap for mankind" the Bud fans are probably most interested in hearing about is a bottle literally touching down on the red planet. Don’t worry, Budweiser is keeping that target in mind.
"Budweiser brewing on Mars will occur as colonization of Mars happens. That currently is projected by some to be as early as the 2030s," Gary Hanning, Director of Global Barley Research at Anheuser Busch, explained with confidence. "Based on the history of colonization on Earth, beer production soon follows the growth of colonies. There will be a great deal to learn about agriculture on Mars and that will take time, so being able to now learn how plants react in Space becomes an exciting and necessary project."
The launch itself, which will be happening at 1:38 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday (oh, those scientists with their oddly precise times!), can be streamed live on NASA.gov/live. Sure, it’s not like you’re going to be able to see any Budweisers or barley on the telecast — it’ll just be a massive rocket being launched into the sky — but it will certainly be a bit more educational than a "Dilly Dilly" commercial.