Colorado 6th-Grader Plans To Brew Beer On The International Space Station

By Josh Lieberman on October 9, 2013 11:55 AM EDT

beer bubbles
A sixth-grader in Colorado has created a beer-making kit that will be sent up to the International Space Station. The project, developed by Michal Bodzianowski, is one of the winners of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. (Photo: wakala.deviantart.com)

A Colorado sixth-grader has developed a novel plan to brew beer in space. The project, "What Are the Effects of Creation of Beer in Microgravity and Is It Possible?", is the brainchild of Michal Bodzianowski, 11, a winner of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education's Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. Come December, Bodzianowski's beer-making kit will be sent up to the International Space Station.

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"I really didn't expect this from the start," Bodzianowski said. "I just designed this experiment to get a good grade in my class." 

Bodzianowski's futuristic plan to brew beer on the ISS, 230 miles above Earth's surface, was inspired by an old-world idea. The sixth-grader had read that beer in the Middle Ages was popular because of the widespread contamination of water; the alcohol in beer kills bacteria, so beer was safer to drink than water. In space, Bodzianowski realized, beer could be a bacteria-resistant water source for astronauts or future space colonies.

"If an emergency occurred, and all water was polluted, creating beer from it will disinfect it, and it is relatively cheaper than purifying it with special tablets that may not last," Bodzianowski wrote in proposal. "And as it kills bacteria, it can also be used medically to disinfect wounds." 

Bodzianowski's plan involves sending the ISS a 6-inch-long silicon tube filled with hops, malted barley, yeast and water, all of which will be separated by clamps. The astronauts will removed the clamps and shake up the tube, and if they're lucky, they'll have some beer to drink after fermentation is complete. 

"We're just trying to get the yeast to react with the ingredients of beer," said Bodzianowski. "If it doesn't react at all, this tells you it won't work."

If it does work, Bodzianowski will be an intergalactic hero.

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