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POPPIN BOTTLES IN THE ISS

I drank champagne in zero gravity to understand the science of popping bubbly in outer space

  • Michael Tabb
By Michael Tabb

Video journalist

This article is more than 2 years old.

Space tourism isn’t exactly for thrifty travelers, but few would call life in zero gravity luxurious.

Champagne company Mumm is trying to change that, with a new bottle that can go where no champagne bottle has gone before. The bottle, a collaboration with space-design startup Spade, took three years to develop. It works by releasing champagne in spherical blobs, which you catch in a specially designed glass.

At this point, drinking bubbly in zero gravity is mostly just novelty; astronauts aren’t allowed to drink while they’re working, and suborbital space tourism isn’t expected to start until at least 2019, (and even that is probably optimistic). But outer space is the next frontier, and Mumm expects civilians who go there to want to celebrate.

Bringing champagne to that kind of celebration involves significant technical work, because you can’t pour liquids without gravity, and bubbles behave totally differently in space.

Earlier this month, I went on a parabolic flight with Mumm to see what it’s like to drink champagne in zero gravity, and understand how it works. Given that parabolic flights only provide 20-some seconds of weightlessness at a time, it’s not a perfect demonstration: by the time they’ve popped the champagne, you barely have time to grab a spherical blob and swallow before the uncaught bubbles come crashing down in a shower of fizzy liquid.

But the experience is enough to show the physics of zero-gravity champagne in action, and give insight into how gravity affects the flavor of a drink that, for hundreds of years, has only been enjoyed on Earth.

Watch the video above for a firsthand look at the champagne in action, and some of the science behind how it works.

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