Can astronauts drink alcohol in space and can they drink alcohol on the space station? The answer is yes and no. Currently, NASA does not allow astronauts to drink alcohol in space, full stop.
Although there have been exceptions to this rule, where astronauts drink alcohol in space, one example of this is when Buzz Aldrin drunk a cup of wine after landing on the moon in the Apollo 11 mission on July 11, 1969.
However, there are no physical limitations to drinking alcohol in space, it is possible to do so, with the same constraints and difficulties of drinking any liquid in zero gravity.
It’s just not allowed, because alcohol inhibits reaction times, concentration, affects balance, blood pressure, decision making and so on and studies have shown that these impairments are worse in high g and zero gravity situations.
Can Astronauts Drink Alcohol on the Space Station?
Astronauts are also not allowed to drink any type of alcohol within 12 hours of their launch. In 1985 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did a study on alcohol and the impacts it had on people at the altitudes astronauts get to.
The experiment they conducted concluded that at an altitude of 12 000 feet and up alcohol consumption can increase the effects of alcohol and can make you mentally and physically worn out.
What can Astronauts have in space?
There are a variety of different things astronauts can have in space, in fact, they have close to the same variety as we do on Earth.
The drinks that they can have in space include coffee, tea, juice, lemonade along with water and milk. They have plastic-wrapped foods, typically vacuum sealed. Not only do they have foods that they take out and eat, but they also have an oven which they can heat and cook food in.
Astronauts aren’t being starved with little food either, they typically eat between 1 900 calories – 3 200 calories a day, which is in the recommended amount of food you need to eat a day.
They have all of their calories in the common three meals of the day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with snacks any time they feel peckish, meaning that their options aren’t limited.
For the snacks, they can have anything on board that doesn’t have a designated meal to go with. Astronauts have a meal plan, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but this doesn’t mean the astronauts don’t get to choose. Although the meals are planned before the mission, the astronauts are the ones who choose it, and they are allowed any type of meal they want, so long as it can be carried into space.
In the International Space Station (the ISS) the food astronauts plan on eating are stored in locker trays, where they are organised and packed in the order the astronauts are going to eat them, making them quick and accessible.
In the ISS, missions last, on average, 6 months. That’s 6 months of food for each astronaut that need to be packed. It isn’t easy to pack the food astronauts eat either, because they need the food to last up to 6 months. How do they make foods like meat last that long? The answer is freeze-dried and vacuum sealed.
When you freeze-dry and vacuum seal food, it can increase the life of the food for up to 3 years. Meaning every space mission so far is covered in terms of food.
How do they freeze-dry the food. Freeze-drying is simply freezing the food straight after receiving it, and after it is frozen you quickly place it inside of a vacuum-sealed chamber.
The vacuum sealing part removes all moisture in the food. The next step is packaging it in sealed plastic bags, while still inside of the vacuum-sealed chamber. After that, they organize the food according to when the astronauts agreed on consuming it.
From there they place it in the food lockers, which are refrigerated for days, up until about 3 days before launch, where they place them in the rocket, and the food should stay in a cool ambient temperature for the rest of the mission.
As for alcohol, Astronauts can drink alcohol if the rules change, but currently it is deemed inappropriate and contrary to mission performance along with not creating the professional look that NASA tries to maintain. Quite simply, it is against the rules.
Of course, commercialization of space flight may change everything. It’s very common to be served alcohol on a plane, so there is a precedence for commercial flights. Perhaps even an expectation that when people start flying in space for leisure, they may well be served alcohol.
Additionally, the inevitable next step is space accommodation, and people staying in a space hotel (essentially commercialization of a space station), will certainly have an expectation of access to things like alcohol.
So it’s probably just a matter of time before we see alcoholic drinks made specifically for consumption in space. Most likely they will also come in some fantastically futuristic containers and bottles.
I guess we are likely to see beverages and space cocktails with some pretty unique names. So here’s some outer space cocktails that already exist on Earth:
- Wormhole Warrior – surprisingly doesn’t contain tequila
- The Nebula Chambord – Marvel inspired cocktail
- Bella Luna – Italian for beautiful moon
- Galaxy – A color changing cocktail
- The Rocket – The colors & layers look like the old rocket-shaped ice-pops
- Baileys Comet – I admit, I like bad puns and cocktails, this ones perfect for me
Currently, as hard as it is to believe, no one has created a cocktail called “The Space Station”, so if you have an idea or a drink that would be perfect to name the Space Station Cocktail, post it below and stake your claim.
Maybe it even has a toothpick flag in it?
One day we might just be drinking a Space Station Cocktail at the space bar of the first ever space hotel. I’ll drink to that. Cheers!
For information on China’s new space station click here.