Now you can drink yourself a personality in space
Why leave the luxuries behind in zero gravity?
Of all the luxuries astronauts must leave behind on Earth – Sunday roasts, hot baths, a conventional working toilet – a glass of fine champagne might not be the most obviously missed.
Yet astronauts – and orbiting tourists with a taste for bubbles – are who Maison Mumm have in mind for a new bottle due for release later this year.
In September, the centuries-old champagne house will launch the Mumm Grand Cordon Stella – an innovative, if slightly niche, piece of technology that will allow space travellers to enjoy a glass of fizz in zero gravity.
The unique design of the bottle (branded with its signature red stripe), and accompanying glass, is the result of a three-year partnership with budding space design company, Spade, which believes it has popped the cork on luxury space travel.“For the last 40 years, space travel has been shaped by engineers rather than designers. Instead of seeing zero gravity as a problem, we look at it as a design possibility,” explains Octave de Gaulle, the founder of Spade. “The big design challenge for Mumm Grand Cordon Stellar was actually getting the liquid out the bottle.”The suitably Blade Runner-esque bottle design uses the champagne’s own gas to expel the liquid into a ring-shaped frame at the top of the neck, where it turns into a droplet of bubbles, floats in the air, and passes into a specifically designed glass.
Hard to imagine when one’s frame of reference is frothing liquid spilling uncontrollably after an expelled cork, but by the sounds of it you end up with a floating bauble of champagne – and surely it can’t get much better than that.And if the thought of slurping on a sparkling sphere of champers wasn’t enough, Mumm claims that the unique conditions of space mean the beverage takes on new taste characteristics, too. “Because of zero gravity, the liquid instantly coats the entire inside of the mouth, magnifying the taste sensations. There's less fizziness and more roundness and generosity, enabling the wine to express itself fully,” says Mumm’s cellar master, Didier Mariotti.How likely is the champagne to prove a success on its maiden voyage? History would suggest that even with today’s technology the team behind it face a tough challenge to nail a superior serve. Both Coca-Cola and Pepsi were banned from space travel after special cans flown on the STS 51-F shuttle failed miserably, with astronauts complaining of “soggy burps”. And in 1972, an attempt to fly out Paul Masson Rare Cream Sherry to the Skylab Mission was ditched after there was public outcry at the thought of the astronauts getting sloshed on the job.Which brings us to a crucial point. Currently, alcohol is not permitted on board the International Space Station, no doubt owing to the fact that its astronauts are operating a $150-billion ship, travelling through a near vacuum at 27,600km/h. There may be far fewer objects to bump into in space, but when they’re asteroid-sized it’s probably best to stick to water.As for when the new champagne is likely to be rolled out on commercial space flights, let alone space missions, the reality feels light years away. But it’s due to be served on zero-gravity flights run by Air Zero G, and, you never know, we may yet be sipping on floating bubbles and raising a toast to luxuries in outer space.
- © The Daily Telegraph