Staff on the International Space Station hope to raise a toast to a sixth grader in December. That’s because they’ll be carrying out an experiment proposed by Michal Bodzianowski, who won a national science contest for children.
He’s among 11 pupils who’ll have the chance to have their experiments carried out in space through a competition run by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education.
The Denver Post explains that Bodzianowski got the idea after reading that people in the Middle Ages drank beer rather than water because the fermentation process killed bacteria. He put together a proposal to test whether it’s possible to brew in a microgravity setting.
According to Bodzianowski, if that proves the case, then brewing could be a back-up option if the water supply on a spacecraft becomes polluted.
With even a traditional microbrewery too bulky for the ISS, where space (and mass) is at a premium, Bodzianowski proposed a very small scale test. It will use a six-inch silicon tube divided up by a series of clasps. The tube will be filled with water, malted barley, hops and yeast.
Once in space, the ISS crew will remove the clamps and shake the tube to mix the ingredients and see if it turns to beer. Meanwhile Bodzianowski will repeat the experiment with identical equipment back on Earth.
Bodzianowski’s teacher Sharon Combs says his work, which was originally designed solely for a school project, is a perfect lesson on why kids need to learn the process of writing lab reports that might one day become the basis of real proposals.
According to the Denver Post, however, winning has come at a price. Although the prize gave Bodzianowski the opportunity to have the experiment run in space, that actually happening was subject to the school raising $21,500 towards the cost of the flight to the ISS, which is being run by commercial firm Nanorocks. That sure makes for an expensive beer.