Budweiser wants to be the first beer on Mars and is researching how to develop a microgravity brew “so that when we make it to Mars, Bud will be ready,” the brand said in a release.
Budweiser discussed this long-term ambition at SXSW on a panel with researchers and retired astronaut Clayton Anderson, who spent five months aboard the International Space Station in 2007, and talked about the challenges related to taking Budweiser to space.
This includes environmental challenges on Mars, like a much lower atmospheric pressure, which Budweiser said turns beer “into a foamy slop,” as well as water with higher salt content, which would make beer taste more bitter, and less direct sunlight, which will make growing hops more difficult.
But it also includes consumption challenges, like tongues swelling slightly in microgravity environments, making it harder to taste. What’s more, Budweiser said carbonation in microgravity results in what is known as wet burps because bubbles want to come back up thanks to the gravitational pull.
It’s unclear how Budweiser intends to tackle these challenges, but it certainly has plenty of time.
According to a public affairs officer for Nasa, its own long-term plans call for putting humans in Mars’ orbit in the early 2030s, with landings to follow.
The NASA rep said Mars is the most Earth-like of any other planet in our solar system and noted it is also appealing because it is “close enough that we can get there.”
“Our robotic explorers have found evidence that it was even more Earth-like in the past, and once had conditions that could’ve supported life,” he said. “We know there is water frozen under the surface and bound up in rocks. Astronaut explorers could use this water and other Martian resources to live there. We believe we can answer some fundamental questions about whether life survived there once, or if it still exists there in some form today. And we also believe it can tell us about the history of the solar system and our own planet as well. We’ve been exploring it for decades and we think it is achievable and the next tangible frontier for expanding human presence into the solar system.”
However, he declined to comment on Budweiser’s ambitions.
For its part, Budweiser conceded this is “a mission years (likely decades) in the making,” but said it “believes life in space deserves to be filled with the same enjoyments available here on earth, including beer.”
The brand also said the mission dovetails nicely with its messaging about the American dream and “the celebration of those who live life on their own terms.”
In a statement, Ricardo Marques, vice president of Budweiser, said, “With this bold new dream, Budweiser is celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit in which our iconic brand was founded upon. Through our relentless focus on quality and innovation, Budweiser can today be enjoyed in every corner of the world, but we now believe it is time for the King of Beers to set its sights on its next destination. When the dream of colonizing Mars becomes a reality, Budweiser will be there to toast the next great step for mankind.”
According to the Nasa rep, Nasa is preparing its new rocket, the Space Launch System and its Orion spacecraft for their first flight together from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center in 2018.
“That flight will kick off a series of missions in what we call the ‘proving ground’ of deep space near the moon, to learn about living and working farther away from Earth before we travel to Mars,” the Nasa rep said. “One of these ‘proving ground’ missions in the 2020s would have astronauts living for a year in a deep-space habitat. We will need deep-space habitats to support astronauts on the [six- to nine-]month trips to Mars. We’ve already been working with commercial companies to develop habitat concepts.”
To date, no astronauts have landed on another planet. However, six Nasa Apollo missions landed on the moon in the late 1960s and early 70s and 12 Nasa astronauts walked – and drove a rover – on the lunar surface.
In addition, Nasa has landed several robotic rovers on Mars, starting with Sojourner in 1997, followed by Spirit and Opportunity in 2004 and Curiosity in 2012.
The rep said Nasa plans to launch another lander in 2018 and another rover in 2020.