Suntory Sends Whisky to the International Space Station

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Prepare your whisky for lift-off.

Last summer, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency cargo spacecraft Kounotori launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center. Kounotori was loaded with more than 8,000 pounds of supplies and scientific experiments—including a dozen mice and six samples of distilled liquor from Suntory Global Innovation Center.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui successfully secured the spacecraft to the International Space Station’s (ISS) Harmony module with the help of the ISS crew, bringing the whisky and the mice about Kounotori. Unfortunately, the astronauts couldn’t toast to their success because the spirit will be sacrificed to science.

Scientists aboard the ISS’s Japanese Experiment Module Kibo will study the effects of a zero-gravity, temperature-stable environment on the “development of mellowness” (aka the tendency of alcoholic beverages other than beer to lose alcohol content over time) in two groups of Suntory’s distilled beverages.

The first group of whisky will be kept in space’s microgravity environment for one year, while the remaining samples will stay in Kibo for two or more years. Six identical samples will be subjected to similar conditions in comparative experiments on Earth.

It’s unlikely Earthlings or astronauts will get a chance to taste this space-traveling booze, as there are no plans to sell the liquor once it returns to Earth.

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