Strap on your beer goggles and join us on a hops-fueled rocket ride

By Franz Lidz, illustration by David Arky
Smithsonian Magazine
There is no pie in the sky.

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There’s no beer, either.

In 2007, following confirmation that two of its astronauts had flown three sheets to the ozone, NASA formally banned crews from imbibing in orbit. These days any rocketeer wishing to get staggeringly pie-eyed and maybe moon the Moon will have to hitch a ride with another space agency altogether.

It’s equally sobering to note that carbonated beverages are outlawed on the International Space Station. Gas bubbles in a carbonated drink don’t act the same as on gravity-rich Earth. Instead of floating to the top, the bubbles lie there, evenly distributed in the liquid. Maybe that’s just as well. The drink would be a frothy mess. To rework the lyrics of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” the head on a brewski poured from a tin can far above the world would float in a most peculiar way. How peculiar? Tristan Stephenson, author of The Curious Bartender, has speculated that the bubbles in this slop would “flocculate together into frogspawn-style clumps.”

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