In zero-gravity, one of the biggest problems that astronauts face is the altered behavior of liquids, making them unable to enjoy the delightful tastes of beverages. Ballantine's, a manufacturer of blended Scotch whiskey, has sought a classy solution to this challenge.
Ballantine's has teamed up with Open Space Agency to engineer a glass that will allow astronauts and future space travelers to satiate their thirsts while looking out in the vastness of the Earth.
Scientists were able to manipulate the principle called capillary action or the ability of liquids to defy gravity by clinging onto the walls of narrow containers. Capillary action allows water to move through a plant's roots to its flowers.
The Space Glass is injected with whiskey through a valve at the bottom of the cup and into a reservoir. The magnetic gold-plated base of the glass can stick to the metal surface of a spacecraft. It also has scent holes in the plastic lid that let the drinker take a whiff of the beverage without it floating away. On the brim of the glass, a gold mouthpiece receives the whiskey that spirals up a narrow tube.
Similar to the espresso cup currently used by astronauts, the Space Glass is 3-D printed. This innovation works better than sipping liquids through plastic bags with straws.
During testing, the Open Space Agency successfully dropped the Space Glass into a 480-feet vacuum called drop tower in Germany. Scientists observed the behavior of objects as they drop and create zero-gravity conditions in weightless environments.
In addition to the Space Glass, Ballantine's also developed a special taste of whiskey. Astronauts' senses are muted while in zero-gravity because water in the body flows into the astronauts' upper extremities that result to cold-like congestion, so this whiskey is made spicier and sweeter than the ones sold here on Earth.
Meanwhile, Ballantine's special whiskey and Space Glass are both still far from being commercially available. There are other companies such as Cosmic Lifestyle that once designed a martini glass that could contain cocktail, but its Zero Gravity Cocktail Project failed to obtain enough funding on Kickstarter.
Astronauts have relished drinks in zero-gravity in the past. For instance, Buzz Aldrin drank wine while on the moon in 1969. However, NASA does not permit astronauts to drink anymore while in space. Russian cosmonauts are more lenient regarding this.