Thirsty aliens all over the galaxy will surely be in luck when science competition winner Michael Bodzianowski sends his beer-making directives to the International Space Station in December. From there, an astronaut will launch into space and attempt to open a kind of interstellar beer brewery with the recipe and directions provided by Bodzianowski. While the brewery won’t be up and running to serve hand crafted micro brews to space dwellers anytime soon, the experiment will determine whether beer is able to be brewed in space and could potentially provide drinkable water in an emergency situation.
Bodzianowski said his intent was to see if beer ingredients would react together in space so that a clean source of hydration would be available to astronauts or even the planned Mars colony in case of an inter-space disaster, such as an unforeseen explosion that could cause the drinkable water to be contaminated. He says the beer would be used “in future civilization as an emergency backup hydration and medical source. The fermentation process could be used to make beer, which can then be used as a disinfectant and a clean drinking source.”
He says he was inspired by a book he had read about the middle ages, and how people would be denied beer when they violated the law. “It was a punishment for crimes,” he said, “that you couldn’t drink beer, and most people didn’t survive (that) because the water was contaminated.” This sparked his idea for the space brewery experiment and he submitted it never imagining that it would be selected as a winner in the competition.
“I really didn’t expect this from the start,” he said, “I just designed this experiment to get a good grade in my class.” However unexpected his win might be, he’s extremely excited to see his plans come to fruition. If the experiment works, he said, “It’s going to be the greatest moment of my life, so far.”
The submission, entitled What Are the Effects of Creation of Beer in Microgravity and Is It Possible? Was selected out of 744 proposals and cements the first win for Colorado in the competition, which is part of the STEM program, short for Student Spaceflight Experiments program.
Bodzianowski’s sixth grade teacher, Sharon Combs, says she didn’t expect the competition to be won by one of her sixth graders, but she is thrilled that it was. She says that participating in the competition really brought science to life for the students in a meaningful way. “It was so much more impactful than just studying something in the classroom, then writing a report on it, and moving on to the next thing. It was an opportunity for them to experience science as real life, doing lab experiments with the intricacies demanded by NASA,” she said.
After the NASA astronaut arrives at the International Space Station and brews Bodzianowski’s beer, will thirsty aliens be in luck? Maybe not right away, but 11 year old who will see his dream to open a beer brewery in space come true can’t wait to find out the results of his experiment, and neither can we.
By: Rebecca Savastio