“Sending our barley to the International Space Station is a big step towards our goal of creating a microgravity brew,” Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser

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In a stated effort to become the first beer on Mars, the company that makes Budweiser sent barley seeds up to the International Space Station  that floats approximately 220 miles above the earth. Fulfilling a promise made at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, last March, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) sent 20 of its own malting barley seeds up on a SpaceX CRS-13 rocket that launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 4. Barley is the primary source of malt in beer, which comprises one of the foamy beverage’s four main ingredients.

“Sending our barley to the International Space Station is a big step towards our goal of creating a microgravity brew,” emails Ricardo Marques, vice president, Budweiser. “Our obsession with innovation led us to this place, and we couldn’t be more excited for Budweiser to be the beer one day enjoyed on the red planet.”

While it may be fun to imagine popping open a cold one on a planet whose temperature fluctuates between minus 195 degrees F and 70 degrees F, the more grounded explanation for the experiment is to see how barley seeds germinate in and react to low or zero gravity so that AB InBev scientists can determine whether it might be possible to  incorporate microgravity conditions or space storage and breeding into their extensive barley development programs one day. Specifically, they'll evaluate whether space conditions can be cool and dry enough for proper barley storage and whether the seeds grow at least 6-10 inches the first two weeks, as they do on their home planet.

AB InBev is partnering with both the non-profit Center for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) that manages space station’s research facility as well as Space Tango, a private company that runs two commercial research units within the National Lab. The seeds will stay in orbit for a month before coming back down to earth to be analyzed by AB InBev’s American innovation team in Colorado.

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