An astronaut explains why you can’t burp in space

Excuse you.
Excuse you.
Image: AP Photo/NASA TV
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Astronauts can’t burp in space. So claims one of the fun facts printed on the underside of Snapple caps. But what does a beverage brand know about the particulars of gas in zero gravity?

Recently, a skeptical Snapple drinker confronted with this bit of trivia tweeted a photo of the cap to a person uniquely qualified to verify its accuracy: retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Hadfield shot to fame in 2015, when he posted a video online of himself covering David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” on guitar while floating in zero-gravity on the International Space Station. (Bowie loved it, by the way, and arranged a special copyright dispensation to keep the video on the internet after YouTube yanked it.)

Hadfield confirmed: There is no burping in space. The reasons why are kind of gross.

On Earth, gravity pulls liquids and solids to down to the bottom of our digestive systems, while gases stay up top and get forced back up the esophagus as a burp. That can’t happen in space.

Without gravity to separate them, “the air, food and liquids in your stomach are all floating together like chunky bubbles. If you burp, you throw up into your mouth,” Hadfield wrote on Twitter. “So guess where the trapped air goes?”

The official verdict on gas in space: No burps, more farts, and no, you can’t use your flatulence to propel you around the shuttle. Trust Hadfield—he’s tried.