Sydney, May 27: Astronauts can raise their beer mugs in a toast once they successfully make it to space, thanks to a Japanese brewery that is planning to produce the world's first 'space beer' using barley once stored at the International Space Station. Researchers said that the project was part of efforts to plan for a future in which humans spend extended periods of time in space and might like to have a cold beer after a space walk.
Japanese brewery Sapporo Holdings said that 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,'' The Australian quoted Sapporo executive Junichi Ichikawa as telling the reporters. Sapporo officials said that 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. The company collaborated on the project with Okayama University biologist Manabu Sugimoto, who has been part of a Russian space project to explore ways to grow edible plants in space. The associate professor said that 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. "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 said.
Sugimoto that as of now, researchers have not detected any differences between Earth-grown and space barley. "In the long run, we hope our space research will be not just about producing food, but about enjoying food and relaxing," Sugimoto said. Sugimoto will present DNA analysis of his findings before a conference in Canada in July.