Wine Rockets to Space for Near-Zero Gravity Ageing

Update by Paige Donner

Twelve bottles of French Bordeaux wine just rocketed off to the International Space Station on a mission to help further the science of food here on Earth.

The project is being fueled by Luxembourg startup Space Cargo Unlimited.  They acknowledge that in addition to the importance of food and wine having a presence in space exploration, their real motivation is to improve agricultural methods and food safety here on Earth.

They intend to “investigate how space radiation and microgravity affect wine components during the ageing process. This could yield results that help in understanding taste enhancement and food conservation. In this approach, Space Cargo Unlimited is following in the footsteps of Louis Pasteur, a founding father of modern biology, who, while studying wine in the 19th century, discovered the existence of bacteria and how to maximize the role of yeast.”


CommuBioS advances knowledge of changes in compounds critical for nutrition and taste of foods during long-term storage. This knowledge has potential applications for enhancing the taste and smell of food products. It also has potential applications for improved processes in medicine and agriculture

The precious liquid cargo was transported to the International Space Station aboard a Northrup Grumman Antares rocket, loaded onto a Cygnus cargo spacecraft.

The twelve bottles of wine in space, as well as the ‘control group’ bottles that have remained here on Earth, in Bordeaux, will be kept with their wine intact inside the bottles at a constant 18°C temperature throughout these next months.  “Researchers predict there will be taste differences that result from the effect that microgravity and space-based radiation will have on physical and chemical reactions.”

Space Cargo Unlimited is joined in this effort by the science team from ISVV, University of Bordeaux, France led by PI Philippe Darriet PhD and FAU Erlangen Nuremberg University. Other space organizations in addition to NASA are Thales Alenia Space, NanoRacks LLC, Mr. Lionel Suchet, COO of France’s CNES and his team.

Nicolas Gaume, co-founder of the startup said, “It is our shared conviction that there is no Planet B. We intend to pave the way to our future by helping to invent the agriculture and food we need for tomorrow.”

From NASA’s Website: 

ISS Science for Everyone



Complex Micro(μ)-Biological System (CommuBioS) studies the aging of complex multicomponent liquids during long-term storage in space. It stores samples of wine, a chemically complex liquid, on the space station and compares the samples with those stored in an aging facility on the ground to determine the effect of the space environment on specific components. Results advance knowledge of the evolution of compounds that are critical for the nutrition and taste of foods.


Experiment Description



  • Complex Micro(μ)-Biological System (CommuBioS) studies the mechanisms taking place in the aging of complex multicomponent liquids in a space environment.
  • The investigation compares wine samples aged in space and Earth. It aims to elucidate the role of colloids (such as tannins and polyphenols) and how the space environment affects them.
  • Comparisons between Earth and space samples allow for the characterization of physical, chemical and organoleptic differences.
  • Investigation results may advance knowledge on how food compounds change over time.
  • Components studied in CommuBioS may be applicable in the development of medicine, food production, long-term food storage, agriculture, human health and physiology, among others.
  • One of the expected outcomes involves development of tailor-made taste and smell components and enhancements for food products

Read more from NASA HERE

*also read more about NASA’s early efforts to monitor the effects of climate in vineyards 


All photos (where noted) copyright 2019  Paige Donner

iTunes – Paris GOODfood+wine / 

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