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Space Beer NASA

Why Astronauts Are Banned From Getting Drunk in Space (bbc.com) 154

Bryan Lufkin, writing for BBC: "Alcohol is not permitted onboard the International Space Station for consumption," says Daniel G Huot, spokesperson for Nasa's Johnson Space Center. "Use of alcohol and other volatile compounds are controlled on ISS due to impacts their compounds can have on the station's water recovery system." For this reason, astronauts on the space station are not even provided with products that contain alcohol, like mouthwash, perfume, or aftershave. Spilling beer during some drunken orbital hijinks could also risk damaging equipment. [...] There could be another reason to avoid frothy drinks like beer -- without the assistance of gravity, liquid and gases can tumble around in an astronaut's stomach, causing them to produce rather soggy burps.
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Why Astronauts Are Banned From Getting Drunk in Space

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  • Drunk Russians in space...

  • Perhaps I've seen too many movies, but what if the Russians found out the hard way that the vodka flask(s) in the capsule was a bad idea after all?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Americans elected a Grand Nagus but synthehol is forbidden on the starbase.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "There could be another reason to avoid frothy drinks like beer -- without the assistance of gravity, liquid and gases can tumble around in an astronaut's stomach, causing them to produce rather soggy burps.'

    But didnt coca cola famously pay nasa a heap of money to put a coke dispenser on board the space shuttle endeavour? They also did experiments with coke soft drinks on the mir space station and the space shuttle discovery. Or is it just okay when the soft drink maker pays them a tonne of dosh?

  • Another reason to ban beer: It would cost the taxpayers several thousand dollars to launch a pint of beer into LEO. The bill for a small Superbowl party on the ISS would easily exceed the average US worker's annual salary.

    If they're going to send up any booze, make it 190 proof grain alchohol. That would only cost about $100 per drink.

    Better yet, ditch the whole manned space flight boondoggle and use the savings to fund more real space science.

    • They recycle water, but still need to bring some up. Might as well bring up the good stuff.

    • Another reason to ban beer: It would cost the taxpayers several thousand dollars to launch a pint of beer into LEO. The bill for a small Superbowl party on the ISS would easily exceed the average US worker's annual salary...

      Speaking of wasted cost, companies collectively pissed away over $200 million to create stupid commercials during the Superbowl, which is a tad more than the average US worker's annual salary...

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

      All they really need is the alcohol: they've got Tang. Instant "Orbital Screwdriver". . . .

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Ha, ha. You funny.

    • But think of the valuable research!

  • Are there any other kinds?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Drunk Astronauts!

    If you thought science was a serious business then you haven't met these astronauts! Watch them try to conduct science experiments with an average BAC of 0.15! If you've ever felt light on your feet, see what it's like for trained professionals to be hammered in zero gravity! You'll be sitting on the edge of your seat when these men and women perform spacewalks when they couldn't even walk straight on solid ground!

    Brought to you by Papa Johns, who will be giving away free pizzas whenever th

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @02:42AM (#53903971)

    Thought the reason that these were not allowed in space was that the fumes from them cannot easily be removed from the atmosphere. It's not like they can open a window, and air out the fumes. This is a problem with all things that are brought up into space.

    NASA's Odor Evaluation program [nasa.gov]

  • Artificial Gravity (Score:4, Interesting)

    by djinn6 ( 1868030 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @02:44AM (#53903973)

    Spilling beer during some drunken orbital hijinks could also risk damaging equipment ... without the assistance of gravity, liquid and gases can tumble around in an astronaut's stomach, causing them to produce rather soggy burps.

    Isn't it about time they started doing the whole artificial gravity thing? From what I've read, it can be done cheaply with a long tether and a counter weight at the other end.

    A lot of special considerations are necessary for space living. Think showers, where you not only need a pump for the water, you also need one sucking the water down the drain. Sleeping? You need straps to keep you in place. Using a laptop? You need external fans to cycle hot air away from it. Even your body starts deteriorating because it's not exercising as much, and you need to devote many hours to physical fitness just to stay healthy. Zero G living is just to foreign to us.

    • by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @03:13AM (#53904039)
      Except 99% of the work on the international space station is experiments in zero gravity. The ISS isn't very good for astronomy or taking any kind of cosmic readings and it's not a good platform for making earth observations either. We go to the ISS for zero G.
    • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwater.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @03:39AM (#53904075) Homepage

      From what I've read, it can be done cheaply with a long tether and a counter weight at the other end.

      It can be done cheaply in theory... In practice, there's all sort of complications with tether deployment, spin up, and stability. Plus you can't dock with a station spinning like that, so now you encounter the practical problems with spinning down. (All these problems are caused by the fact that tethers aren't rigid.) Any time you need to maneuver the station (for re boost or to avoid debris), you also encounter the spin-up/spin-down problems. Then there are the problems the spin causes in keeping your solar panels aligned with the sun, and your radiators aligned away from the sun. Any directional antennas also suffer from the same problems. Etc... etc...

      Easy in theory, difficult in practice.

      • by iris-n ( 1276146 )

        Unless you have actually tried to build a rotating space station, your answer is also theoretical. So it would be fair to say "Easy according to a bad theory, difficult according to a better theory".

        • Unless you have actually tried to build a rotating space station, your answer is also theoretical.

          They have tried to extend tethers in space, and run into multiple problems caused by them being not-rigid. Gemini 11 (which was tethered to it's Agena to test just these things) encountered problems with spin-up due to this and other dynamics issues. The problems I cite spring directly from experience, mathematics, and engineering.

          So no, my answer isn't theoretical.

          • by iris-n ( 1276146 )

            They have tried to extend tethers in space, and run into multiple problems caused by them being not-rigid. Gemini 11 (which was tethered to it's Agena to test just these things) encountered problems with spin-up due to this and other dynamics issues.

            Gemini 11 didn't try to dock while spinning, manoeuvre while spinning, or keep solar panels aligned while spinning.

            The problems I cite spring directly from experience, mathematics, and engineering.

            As any good theory does.

            So no, my answer isn't theoretical.

            You might want to review your definition of "theory". Hint: it is not an insult.

            • Gemini 11 didn't try to dock while spinning, manoeuvre while spinning, or keep solar panels aligned while spinning.

              Which is completely irrelevant - because the problems spinning causes those things can be directly determined. There's nothing unknown. They're not theoretical in any sense of the word - they're very real.

              You might want to review your definition of "theory". Hint: it is not an insult.

              Hint: I am using the common definition of "theory". I have know idea what definition you're using, bu

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @04:28AM (#53904135) Homepage

      Showers aren't practical in space anyway... forming gravity just for them is ridiculous, and no you don't "need two pumps" (that would be easy!) - you just need air flow. Imagine showering in a wind tunnel - it works just fine and is probably more efficient. The real problem is that you need to seal the entire shower all around as the water will escape from ANY direction.

      Sleeping - some of the best reported sleeps are in space, no weight makes for better comfort. But you don't need to be "strapped down", you just need to be lightly tethered so you don't wander off at any speed. Two bungee cords attached to a harness in space will give you the best sleep you ever had.

      Laptop fans operate just fine in space. Like the shower, airflow is still present even in the absence of gravity. You're not living in a vacuum.

      Body muscles, yes, they deteriorate. Which is why they exercise. But they only deteriorate relative to Earth - for space use they are just fine. Long-term space living, your body adapts to its surroundings rather than building muscle mass that would be wasted anywhere but on Earth.

      • by murdocj ( 543661 )

        I used to think that sleeping in space would be great, but I recall running into an article that said that astronauts had difficulty sleeping. Here's one article that details the reasons: http://science.howstuffworks.c... [howstuffworks.com]

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          Almost all of the issues that are described in that article are less about sleeping in space and more about sleeping in a new environment. If you take someone who is use to sleeping out in the country and put them next to a train station in a busy city, they're going to have problems sleeping. Or take the person use to sleeping next to the train station and put them out in the country where there isn't that same constant background noise.

          The only thing that seemed to be especially unique to a space environm

    • by idji ( 984038 )
      You are going to need a large MASSIVE space wheel to do that easily without causing the rest of the station to wobble. If you want to do it "small" with a counterweight, you will have to balance it perfectly (won't happen) as the person is MOVING around in the rotating space. This will cause wobble in the rest of the space station - destroying the zero g environment you want there. And when the person wants to go to zero G, what are you going to do with all the rotational energy and momentum? So it's not j
    • Spilling beer during some drunken orbital hijinks could also risk damaging equipment ... without the assistance of gravity, liquid and gases can tumble around in an astronaut's stomach, causing them to produce rather soggy burps.

      Isn't it about time they started doing the whole artificial gravity thing? From what I've read, it can be done cheaply with a long tether and a counter weight at the other end. A lot of special considerations are necessary for space living. Think showers, where you not only need a pump for the water, you also need one sucking the water down the drain. Sleeping? You need straps to keep you in place. Using a laptop? You need external fans to cycle hot air away from it. Even your body starts deteriorating because it's not exercising as much, and you need to devote many hours to physical fitness just to stay healthy. Zero G living is just to foreign to us.

      I wonder how many millions are spent on plastic surgery due to the effects of gravity on the human body over time.

      I wonder how many millions are spent treating back pain due to bulging and compressed discs due to the effects of gravity on the human body over time.

      Gravity can be a bitch on the body too. Not saying Zero G is the answer, but I'd settle for lunar gravity.

    • by Salgak1 ( 20136 )

      No such thing as "artificial gravity". What you're referring to is centripetal acceleration. And it's not cheap: the ISS is designed to function in a microgravity environment, and is built as lightly as possible. to minimize launch mass, and thus, lift costs.

      Designing a station utilizing centripetal acceleration would require much stronger materials, and specific designs for load-bearing structures. Currently, the only load the ISS currently has to deal with, is caused by pressurization of the interior e

      • Artificial gravity is the force in a spacecraft caused by acceleration, either linear or centripetal, to replace mass-caused force. "Artificial gravity" is a good term to use because it identifies not only the cause but the use.

        The force exerted by air on a 14 foot by 14 foot square is 200 tons. That's going to substantially exceed the force required to hold together a space vehicle due to spinning it. Additionally, there's no need to spin up to 1 g; most of the disadvantages of freefall can be removed by a

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I thought Buzz Aldrin celebrated a holy communion on board the Apollo 11. [theguardian.com]

    Before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church's general assembly to administer it to himself.

    "I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      Could simply have been non-alcoholic wine... or the rule didn't exist then.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        The rule is due to water recycling on the ISS so fairly obviously didn't apply before the ISS was built.
        How is the begging going BTW Brendan?
    • There was no water reclamation on the Apollo flights though - urine was dumped overboard and airborne moisture was simply captured. Thus Aldrins communion wine wouldnt have had any negative effects.

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        Yeah, I don't really understand this rule. It's not like you pee alcohol after drinking it, it's transformed by the body (acetaldehyde, then acetyl).

        Also I tested a water recycler for a year while in Antarctica [gdargaud.net], which was intended for space use (it was an ESA model, probably different from the NASA one), and there was no limit to the amount of alcohol we could drink (fortunately!!!), yet the only issue was with some shampoo and urine: we had to use the officially sanctioned shampoo and we were forbidden to
        • ... and we were forbidden to pee in the shower !

          Well, that lets me out then! When I can't pee in the shower first thing in the morning, it messes up my whole day!

          • by dargaud ( 518470 )
            It gets worse: we couldn't pee in the toilets either ! This was insanely hard not to do and took the training of a yogi master. The reason is that the toilets were actually shit burners [gdargaud.net] and liquids would mess them up, if not straight short-circuit them !
        • Who said anything about there being an expectation of alcohol in the urine? As you note, alcohol is metabolised into certain chemicals, and its those chemicals in the waste water which is the issue. You will find that there are loads of other things astronauts on the ISS cant eat for precisely the same reasons, this article was just about alcohol because its something most people can relate to.

  • I'm sure the Russians have a bottle or three. a la ruse!
  • At some point this rule was instigated. Makes one wonder what could have happened to require it. I doubt it is based purely on speculation.
    • You don't need to be in space to simulate some of the aspects of a space station. I am sure they found all of this out well before the first manned space flight.

      Which begs the question: Why am I reading about this now? Is this "Slashdot, factoids for nerds"?

  • A1:"I bet you can't take a butt naked selfie outside the station." A2:"Hold my beer" Although zero-G beer pong would be awesome.
  • by Gonoff ( 88518 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2017 @08:59AM (#53904753)

    The attitudes towards alcohol in the USA are quite bizarre to most of the rest of the planet but we didn't have prohibition.

    When I went to the USA with the British Army, I found that although I was old enough to be an ally with a rifle, I was not old enough to have a beer at 20! I was old enough to go in harms way but not old enough for Budweiser! Your troop transport aircraft was supposed to be dry. I have heard that your naval vessels are dry.

    I have heard that your prohibition was brought about by a, misnamed, temperance movement. Certainly, there are some people who can only be teetotal or drunk. In most cases, this is a matter of education. The best way is to demystify it. I remember at college, you could tell the students who had never been allowed even a glass of shandy. They were the ones who propped up bars every night. They "didn't do morning lectures"! Your country is treating you the same...

    • Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement courts may of changed that as some ISDS courts can rule that a convenience stores chain profits are being hurt by not being able to sell to people aged 18-20.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The US pulled out of TPP, so not happening.

    • Correlation does not imply causation. Various parts of Canada also had prohibition during some of the same timeframe. The drinking age there is also set per province, which interestingly, is also the same for the USA. For example the drinking age in Virginia is 18 for beer and wine but 21 for spirits. When I was growing up in Louisiana, there was a weird loophole law; you could be 18 to buy alcohol but had to be 21 to drink it. It was changed to 21 outright shortly after I turned 18 of course. Althoug

      • ...I agree with you that at the very least members of the military should be able to purchase liquor. It's asinine that somebody can face bullets, or vote, or get legally married, but not be mature enough to purchase alcohol. Thanks MADD!

        Maturity is not magically instilled by wearing a military uniform, which I've seen first-hand. It often comes with life experience, so perhaps you can stop blaming the organization named after Drunk Driving, and instead understand the statistics that clearly present the reasons why young adults should not be drinking, gambling, or even renting cars until they gain a bit more life experience.

        Given the divorce rate and our last few elections, perhaps statistics should be driving up the legal age of other ac

      • There wouldn't be a song with the refrain "What do you do with a drunken sailor" if the qualifications for armed force membership were the same as for responsible drinking.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have heard that your naval vessels are dry.

      well, if your navel vessels aren't dry then you are probably sinking!

      don't worry i will be here all week!

    • Your troop transport aircraft was supposed to be dry. I have heard that your naval vessels are dry.

      It only takes one drunk jackass to cause a billion dollars of damage. Reducing risk is a good thing.

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      The attitudes towards alcohol in the USA are quite bizarre to most of the rest of the planet but we didn't have prohibition.

      When I went to the USA with the British Army, I found that although I was old enough to be an ally with a rifle, I was not old enough to have a beer at 20! I was old enough to go in harms way but not old enough for Budweiser! Your troop transport aircraft was supposed to be dry. I have heard that your naval vessels are dry.

      Off topic, but one of the best times I ever had was drinking with some Welsh soldiers on leave from the British Army, in an Irish pub on the bank of the river in Salzburg, Austria on New Years Eve. Don't know if it's covered in basic training or what, but you guys sure know how to have a good time drinking. Also, we did you a favor on the Budweiser.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      When I went to the USA with the British Army, . . .I was old enough to go in harms way but not old enough for Budweiser!.

      You're welcome.

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      And it has had bad effects. Used to be 18. It was changed shortly before I could buy, I think a year or two where I live. Same old leftist BS - it'll save lives. I'm blind... well in the years since then studies have shown they were the ones that were blind, and they admitted it. Yet we're still stuck with it.

      We also have this zero tolerance concept. They're always the leftists doing it. No guns, No drinking, Can't even draw a picture of a gun in school. No cowboys and indians, some schools don't even want

  • Pure ethanol spirit is the best optical equipment cleansing liquid.

    Even in the Soviet Union, which was officially obsessed with anti-alcoholism campaign, this type of designation was both given and taken without questions.

    Joking aside, Russian cosmonauts considered it a matter of principle to smuggle alcohol to the space. Another, equally important principle, is to deny the fact of contraband and consumption to it.

  • What kind of a question is that?

    They are ASTRONAUTS. Flying and operating insanely expensive equipment on massive insanely expensive missions where just about every move has critical consequences. It's the same reason you can't have angry outbursts on the Spaceshuttle. These people a cool. Like, seriously and certified cool.

    Of *course* they're not allowed to get drunk.

    Yes, russian cosmonauts were/are allowed to have a shot of Vodka after long tricky EVAs and similar big events. They're russians, what do you

  • They are there for science. No having fun and no drunk science experiments like we have on the surface. That's how we end up with junk science where nobody can ever reproduce those results. Ok, I'm being nice. I'm sure there is outright fraud going on in some cases to get their PhD.

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