In the very early hours of June 13, 2019, there was complete silence across the Swedish countryside. Then suddenly near the small town of Kiruna, there was a huge boom, it was the German Aerospace Center (DLR) launching a 12-meter long sounding rocket from their ESRANGE space base. The 20-meter long fire trail behind it blew up the morning sky as it thrust towards outer space, pushing against the Earth’s atmosphere.
An incredible sight to see, carrying a scientific payload at the speed of Mach 6, these rockets take years of engineering and planning before being sent off into outer space. Yet this rocket was a little bit different than prior ones, this time a German thrash metal band known as Tankard was involved. And in true metal rock fashion, they had loaded their part of the mission with yeast, the plan? Well to make space beer of course!
A board the rocket you will find 10 different experiments put together by physicists and biologists, along with small vials of liquid yeast from the wine region of Germany: Palatina. The brewery known as the BierProjekt Landau would like to know if the yeast is still alive after the ordeal of a flight and a stay in weightlessness.
Creating space beer is not the actual goal of the mission, it does also include scientific research. The research is into the by-product of the yeast, the vitamin B12. This is an extremely important vitamin for humans to survive as it helps our nerves and brain grow. On Earth, this is acquired through eating nuts and animal meat, but on a flight to Mars, for example, this would not be available. So the German space center would like to know if is possible to pack yeast and use it to create B12 vitamins during the flight.
The idea is that given the complexity of a space mission to Mars, the ideal situation would be to pack everything in the assumption that they will be on Mars for an eternity.