Imagine this scene from the not-so-distant future: You are floating weightlessly aboard a commercial spacecraft. You are gazing down at the Earth in wonder, pinching yourself for being fortunate enough – and rich enough – to achieve your lifelong dream of leaving the atmosphere.
So, what do you do to celebrate? Thanks to French designer Octave de Gaulle, you might have the classic option of drinking champagne.
According to a report by AFP, the champagne company Mumm enlisted de Gaulle to create the world’s first zero-gravity bottle of bubbly.
The current prototype, which is the result of three years' worth of development, is a two-chambered container that houses an exclusive champagne varietal in the upper portion and a finger-controlled valve attachment in the lower portion. When the two halves are connected, the valve uses pressure from the CO2 present in the wine to spurt small amounts out of the top of the bottle in the form of foam.
A strip of aluminum that arches over the opening catches the resulting foam spheres to prevent them from flying all over the ship – an event that would waste perfectly good champagne and potentially damage multi-million-dollar equipment. A special long-stemmed glass resembling a stretched-out egg cup is then used to scoop the spheres from the air and direct them into the mouth, whereupon the foam turns back into liquid.
"It's really magical because the champagne lands not just on your tongue but on the palate, the cheeks – the gastronomic sensations are magnified," astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy told the news agency.
Clervoy is head of Novespace, the company that operates Airbus Zero-G planes for European Space Agency training missions and experiments. These planes travel high into the atmosphere then plummet downward for several seconds, creating a brief zero-gravity environment when the plane is in freefall. A typical two-hour flight involves several of these “parabolic” climbs and plummets, but the total time in weightlessness is only about five minutes. (Every day people looking to experience the closest thing to space travel currently on offer can also take an Airbus Zero-G flight for €6,000 (just under $7,000) a pop.
Mumm teamed up with Novespace to promote the space-ready champagne in a special demonstration flight that took place yesterday. Journalists from several countries were invited to board an Airbus Zero-G departing from the French city of Reims, one of the nation’s champagne capitals. During the periods of freefall, they tested de Gaulle’s contraption and tasted the wine inside.
Considering that past freefall planes were dubbed “vomit comets” by the astronauts who trained on them, we are curious to know how adding alcohol into the mix played out on the journalists’ stomachs.
Per AFP, though the space tourism industry has not yet taken off, Mumm is already offering their concept to the key players such as Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.