Champagne in space: High-tech bottle gets test flight
Future space tourists may be sipping champagne in orbit if a uniquely designed twin-chambered bottle with "egg cup" glasses proves a success.
On Wednesday, a specially equipped aircraft will take off from the heart of the French champagne region to test the novel way of dispensing bubbly.
The plane will make a series of steep climbs before plunging down to create 20-second intervals of weightlessness.
The new bottle design was commissioned by the Mumm champagne house.
Journalists from several countries were invited to try the champagne during Wednesday's flight on board the Airbus Zero-G plane.
The wine, which sits in the upper portion of the bottle, is released with a finger-controlled valve that uses the champagne's own carbon dioxide to eject small amounts as foam.
The journalists then get to consume the wine by scooping it out of the air using small long-stemmed glasses
"They won't have to be performing any professional tasks on board, so they'll probably be able to drink a bit of alcohol," said astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, who heads the company which operates the Airbus Zero-G, ahead on the flight.
The Mumm team say they hope it will be seen as a more elegant solution than consuming drink through a straw.
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The high-tech bottle, created by the French designer Octave de Gaulle, was not developed with professional astronauts in mind, as drinking alcohol is not permitted for those carrying out tasks on the International Space Station (ISS), for example.
However, it is believed that the possibility of civilian space travel promoted by private operators such as Virgin Galactic and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin spacecraft could eventually provide a market for the product.
Is drinking in space a good idea?
Back in 1985, the US Federal Aviation Administration conducted a study that monitored whether alcohol consumed at simulated altitudes affected performances of complex tasks.
In the study, 17 men were asked to consume vodka both at ground level and in a chamber that simulated an altitude of 12,500ft (3.7km).
They were then asked to complete tasks including mental maths, tracking lights on an oscilloscope with a joystick, and a variety of other tests.
The researchers found that there was no perceivable difference between the effect of alcohol on performance at ground level and in space.