Future space tourists might be able to toast the view from orbit with fine champagne, after designers came up with a high-tech bottle made for knocking back bubbly in zero gravity.
The Mumm champagne house teamed up with designer Octave de Gaulle, who has specialized in conceiving of everyday objects for the final frontier, to develop the space-age bottles.
Journalists from several nations were to try the champagne yesterday during a flight taking off from the French city of Reims, in the heart of champagne country.
The specially equipped Airbus Zero-G plane was to make a series of parabolic maneuvers, climbing steeply before plunging down to create 20-second spurts of weightlessness.
The target audience is not astronauts, who are not allowed to drink alcohol on the International Space Station.
However, the coming wave of sub-orbital and orbital space tourism promoted by private operators such as Virgin Galactic and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin could prove an ebullient audience for cosmic connoisseurs.
“They won’t have to be performing any professional tasks onboard, so they’ll probably be able to drink a bit of alcohol,” said astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, who heads the company that operates the Airbus Zero-G.
In zero gravity, the challenge is quite simply to get the wine out of the bottle.
“You could imagine drinking it with a straw,” said physicist Gerard Liger-Belair, who consulted on the project — though it was unlikely you would ever find a champagne fan stooping to such an indignity.
In search of a more elegant solution, about three years ago the Mumm team turned to De Gaulle — a great-grand-nephew of former French president Charles de Gaulle — who came up with a bottle divided into two chambers.
The champagne is in the upper portion, while below is a finger-
controlled valve that uses the champagne’s own carbon dioxide to eject small amounts of wine that emerges as foam.
The next trick was to stop the wine from streaming across the cabin, for which Octave de Gaulle created an aluminum strip that forms a ring over the top of the bottle to capture a bubbly sphere.
“Then you rotate the bottle and the foam sphere is released,” he said in his Paris workshop.
Drinkers can then scoop the wine out of the air using a tiny yet long-stemmed glass that resembles an egg cup.
Clervoy said the moment the foam turns to liquid in the mouth is a sensation that cannot be matched on Earth.
“It’s really magical because the champagne lands not just on your tongue, but on the palate, the cheeks — the gastronomic sensations are magnified,” he said.
Mumm is now looking for a partner, either a public space agency or one of the private upstarts.
Octave de Gaulle plans to refine his prototype, and who knows, one day astronauts might be able to ring in a new year while on a mission.
“There has always been a bit of alcohol in space, even if it’s officially prohibited,” he said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread
RISKY BUSINESS: The Chinese firm has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of 5G equipment not covered by US sanctions, but fears a wider ban could be announced in the UK Huawei Technologies Co believes it can supply 5G hardware unaffected by US sanctions to the UK for the next five years, sidestepping the expected conclusion of British emergency review on Tuesday. The company has stockpiled 500,000 pieces of kit, but fears a wider ban on its equipment is to be unveiled to placate rebel British Conservative Party lawmakers, who say that the Chinese supplier represents a national security risk. The British government on Friday said that it was “very likely” that British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden would make a statement to parliament on Tuesday