The first hour of every sitting of the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament, is usually kept aside for a special purpose: questions.
Members can ask the government of the day about anything under its purview during the question hour, and the minister responsible must answer. Mostly, it’s a sedate affair with a few members asking a lot of questions. But once in a while, lawmakers uncork some classics—like Sisir Adhikari’s recent query.
In a tightly worded question directed at the government’s department of space, the Trinamool Congress member of parliament from West Bengal’s Kanthi sought to know “whether an Indian spacecraft is planning to brew beer on the moon”?
He also had a followup: “…if so, the details of research plan and viability of yeast test…?”
It’s not that Adhikari, a former union minister of state, has a penchant for asking such unusual questions in parliament. A majority of the 127 questions the lawmaker has submitted since July 2014 have to do with more commonplace topics, including defence and industry.
In his reply on March 15, Jitendra Singh, the minister of state in the prime minister’s office, which oversees the department of space, messed up a little—but didn’t let the question get to his head:
No Madam (Editor’s note: Adhikari is a 75-year-old man). There is no plan to brew beer on the moon by any spacecraft to be made by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). However, Team Indus, a privately funded team under the Axiom Research Labs Pvt. Ltd., is competing for the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition towards building a spacecraft capable of soft landing and roving on the Moon. The spacecraft is proposed to be launched onboard ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) under a commercial launch agreement. As understood from media reports that, Team Indus is proposing an experiment to brew beer on the Moon using yeast.
And to answer the second part of Adhikari’s question, Singh added:
As understood, the aim of this experiment is to test and observe the survivability of yeast in space and how it performs under Moon’s gravity conditions. The experiment plans to brew a small batch of beer in space.
To be fair, Adhikari isn’t talking like he’s on some strange brew. Beer made out of yeast that’s been to space has been a real thing since 2015. And if that wasn’t enough, last week American brewing major Budweiser announced its ambition to brew beer on Mars.
Hopefully, someone will ship Adhikari a pint or two simply for distilling the issue in the parliament of the world’s largest democracy.