Thursday, December 4, 2008

Space Beer

Japanese beer-lovers can anticipate an out-of-this-world brew: suds made with barley descended from grains that traveled in outer space.

A JAPANESE brewery is planning to produce the world's first "space beer"
using barley once stored at the International Space Station.

Researchers said the project was part of efforts to prepare for a future in
which humans spend extended periods of time in space and might like a cold beer
after a space walk.

Japanese brewery Sapporo Holdings said it would make beer using the third
generation of barley grains that had spent five months on the International
Space Station
in 2006.

"We want to finish the beer by November. It will be the first space beer,''
Sapporo executive Junichi
told reporters.

The company will have enough space grain to produce about 100 bottles of
beer but has no immediate plan to make it a commercial venture, Sapporo
officials said.

The company teamed up on the project with Okayama
biologist Manabu Sugimoto, who has been part of a Russian space
project to explore ways to grow edible plants in space.
Barley can grow in
relatively tough environments, such as high and low temperatures, and is rich in
fibre and nutrients, making it ideal for space agriculture, the associate
professor said.

"In the future, we may reach a point where humans will spend an extended
period of time in space and must grow food to sustain ourselves,'' Sugimoto

As of now, scientists have not detected any differences between Earth-grown
and space barley, said Sugimoto, who will present DNA analysis of his findings
before a conference in Canada in July.

"In the long run, we hope our space research will be not just about
producing food, but about enjoying food and relaxing,'' Sugimoto said.

It was the latest space experiment with food.

South Korea's first astronaut, Yi So-Yeon, brought kimchi into space last
month, while Japan has previously sent noodles into orbit.

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