French Wine To Return From Space Station After 12 Months

12 bottles of Bordeaux wine and hundreds of snippets of grapevines are expected to splashdown onboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule on Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa. The wine, vines and thousands of pounds of other gear and research, including mice, spent a year orbiting the world in the name of science.

Each bottle, nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage, remained corked aboard the orbiting lab. Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup behind the experiments, wanted the wine to age for an entire year up there.

The bottles will remain closed until the end of February 2021, when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world tasting in Bordeaux with some of France’s top connoisseurs and wine experts.

Researchers are eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles, with months of chemical testing to follow.

Nicolas Gaume, the company’s CEO and co-founder, will be among the lucky few to get a sip. He stresses that Agricultural science is the primary objective, although he admits he is keen to sample the wine.

“Our goal is to tackle the solution of how we’re going to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and able to feed humanity, and we think space has the key,” Gaume said from Bordeaux.

With climate change, Gaume said agricultural products like grapes will need to adapt to harsher conditions. Through a series of space experiments, Space Cargo Unlimited hopes to take what’s learned by stressing the plants in weightlessness and turn that into more robust and resilient plants on Earth.

There’s another benefit. Gaume expects future explorers to the moon and Mars will want to enjoy some of Earth’s pleasures.

“Being French, it’s part of life to have some good food and good wine,” he told The Associated Press.

Gaume said private investors helped fund the experiments but declined to provide the project cost.

SpaceX is the only shipper capable of returning space station experiments and other items intact. The other cargo capsules are filled with trash and burn up when reentering Earth’s atmosphere.