Los Angeles: For the first time, a team of students in the US is planning to brew beer on the Moon by sending a canister aboard an Indian lunar lander that is set to launch this year. Engineering students at the University of California, San Diego are finalists in the Lab2Moon competition being held by TeamIndus, which will send a spacecraft to the Moon on December 28.
The experiment will test the viability of yeast on the Moon – and result in a freshly brewed batch of beer, researchers said. Understanding how yeast behaves on the Moon is not just important for brewing beer in space, researchers said. It is also important for the development of pharmaceuticals and yeast-containing foods, like bread.
The group, which call itself “Team Original Gravity”, is one of just 25 teams selected from a pool of 3,000 to compete for a spot aboard TeamIndus spacecraft. “The idea started out with a few laughs among a group of friends. We all appreciate the craft of beer, and some of us own our own home-brewing kits,” said Neeki Ashari, a student at UC San Diego.
“When we heard that there was an opportunity to design an experiment that would go up on India’s Moon lander, we thought we could combine our hobby with the competition by focusing on the viability of yeast in outer space,” said Ashari.
The team designed a unique system to accomplish this task. All of the prep work required before yeast is added will be done on Earth. Proposed experiments for the competition from all over the globe ranged from photosynthesis to electricity.
They will be evaluated by an international jury in March when teams fly to Bangalore to showcase their final prototype. The spacecraft is owned by the Indian startup TeamIndus. The aerospace startup was one of four teams in the world to win a USD 1 million Milestone Prize for successfully simulating the landing technology concept of its spacecraft.
TeamIndus hopes to accelerate a human transition into a sustainable multi-planetary species. To that end, TeamIndus came up with a global challenge issued to students under age 25 to imagine, design and build a project to help accomplish that mission.
“The yeast study is among the coolest experiments to be performed on the lunar surface, and I am sure they are one of the top contenders to win the Lab2Moon competition,” said Siddhesh Naik, TeamIndus Ninja and mentor to Original Gravity.
“Our canister is designed based on actual fermenters,” said Srivaths Kaylan, mechanical lead for the team. “It contains three compartments – the top will be filled with the unfermented beer, and the second will contain the yeast,” said Kaylan.
“When the rover lands on the Moon with our experiment, a valve will open between the two compartments, allowing the two to mix,” he said. “When the yeast has done its job, a second valve opens and the yeast sink to the bottom and separate from the now fermented beer,” he added.